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Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

LYRASIS Members and Sloan Foundation 

Burnt Hands 

gelatin silver print 
Donna Callahan 

Volume XI 
Armstrong State College 


Editor Christina Van Dyke 

Associate Editor Eric J. Miller 

Associate Editor Susan E. Parker 

Art Editor Shawn Kelshaw 

Layout Technician Eric J. Miller 

Faculty Advisor Dr. James M. Smith, Jr. 

Calliope is published annually in the spring by and for the students 
of Armstrong State College. Editors give student work first 
priority but accept submissions by faculty and staff. 
Consideration is given to work done in all disciplines on campus. 

Calliope is produced on a Macintosh desktop publishing system. 
Submissions are accepted through winter quarter and should be 
placed in Calliope collection boxes, or mailed to Calliope, Victor 
Annex #5, Armstrong State College, 1 1935 Abercorn Street, 
Savannah, Georgia 31419-1997. 

The faculty advisor selects the Lillian Spencer Award winners for 
Best Poem and Best Prose piece. Linda Jensen of the Fine Arts 
Department selected this year's Best Artwork winner. 

Cover Design: Shawn Kelshaw 

Title page photograph: Burnt Hands, gelatin silver print, 

Donna Callahan 

Special Thanks: 

Linda Jensen, Joann Windeler, Micki Lee, Dr. Carol Andrews, Dr. 
Richard Nordquist, Student Activities, and the Student 
Government Association. 

Printed by Professional Printers, Inc. on recycled paper. 

^JaM^ J C^uMjfc. 

Rebecca Morgan 

Geraldine Provence 
The Mental Office Party of Joe Shmoe 

Kimberly Kent 
Recollection #1, 1950 (six years old) 

Lauretta Harmon 
Slap Jack 

Christina Van Dyke 
Blue Glass 

Geraldine Provence 
Things Are Looking Up 

Linda Oliverio 

Jonah and the Fates 

Kimberly Kent 
Lillian Spencer Award 

The Story of Marguerite's Mommy 

Kimberly Kent 



The Boneyard 

Martha Marinara 
The Mud of Me 

Brant Freeman 
The Partings 

Jim Buttimer 

Brant Freeman 
On the Mall 

Glenn Murphy 
The Cradle 

Brenda Talley 








Carlyn C. Bland 

David Starnes 
Night Swimming 

Amy Rene Hartley 

Lauretta Harmon 
Happiest Girl 

Elizabeth Harvey 

Susan Alexis Tucker 









Vermin View 80 

Geraldine Provence 
After Fall 84 

Susan Alexis Tucker 
Not Even a Valentine 91 

David Starnes 


Brenda Talley 


David Starnes 
Lillian Spencer Award 




Werner's Barn 




Sue Bishop-Stapleton 

Laura Green 
Beyond the Stairs 

Fire Man 



Stephanie Raines 

Elizabeth Welsh 

Lillian Spencer Award 





Stephanie Raines 

Hope A. Lyon 

Tree Nineteen 




Lee Nettles 

Karen Ashley 

Against the Wall 


Safe Repairs 


Elizabeth Welsh 

Jennifer Colson 

Marsh Grass 


Swans Dancing 


Jeanette Pastrana 

Stephen Monroe 

Rise Left 


Age of Wonder 


Jennifer Colson 

Rosemary Bowlin 





Shannon Varley 

Wanda Martin 

A Smile a Day 


A Light in the Dark 


Stacy McClain 

Jennifer Heidmann 





Shannon Varley 

Sue Bishop-Stapleton 

The Surrender 


Burnt Hands III 


Jennifer Heidmanr 


Donna Callahan 

Hand, Meet Shoulder Plate I Clown Plate III 

Chris Foster 

Shawn Kelshaw 

Woman With Swore 


Among Poppies 

Plate II Nouveau Plate N 

Theresa Anderson 

Theresa Anderson 

Hand, Meet Shoulder 

gelatin silver print 
Chris Foster 

Rebecca Morgan 

Geraldine Provence 

Heat waves shimmer over the half-grown corn stalks, but she 
cannot wait. It will need digging before feeding time. The stock 
will stray if she is late penning them. Taking the heavy spade, she 
paces six feet from the center and to the side of Aunt Grace and 
starts moving the black earth. 

He'd took sick of a sudden on Monday late and died this 
morning afore day. Thursday it is. Josiah had worked the place 
with her help since they had moved out here from her parents' 
home fifteen summers past. 

Placing her heavy brogan and her weight onto the spade, she 
struggles, digging deeper into black earth under the shade of the 
oak. Josiah had picked the burial site when they had lost Aunt 
Grace. Said it commanded the valley. 

The sun hangs low as she hefts herself out of the finished grave 
and pauses only to drink deeply from the gourd dipper on the 
water shelf. She enters the cabin and shortly reappears silhouetted 
in the doorway bearing the weight of her dead husband on her 
shoulders. He is wrapped in the sheet from their bed, on which he 
died. Rebecca angles herself and the body out the cabin door and 
bends her knees to feel with her foot for the block step, all the 
while careful to keep the weight balanced, remembering her Pa's 
words, "Use your common sense, girl. Get under the load and use 

She lays him out parallel to the hole, and from inside the grave, 
eases his lean corpse down beside her and uses her arms to sweep 
the loose earth into the grave. 

"This'll have to do 'til morning. No varmints can get at you. I'll 
finish and say words over you proper at first light." 

Tomorrow, she thinks, will be soon enough to take the trail out 
to his brother's place. His only kin. She'll need to get on back 
afterward. The varmints know when you're not about the place. 

There is no need nor sense in skipping the dusk routine. 
Feed the cow and the other animals, make the place secure against 

the night prowlers. She heard a panther scream like a woman 
from out across the valley two nights before and can ill afford to 
lose the shoats or the horse needed for plowing. The cow stands 
waiting outside the pen, where her calf is bawling to be fed. 

Old Hap sets up a ruckus. She calls out to him and clips the 
fastener to his collar to keep him in the clearing. He is as good a 
watchdog as can be, but needs restraint. Otherwise, he's likely to 
be off on the trail of a rabbit. 

The firelight gives off enough light to see by as she moves 
about the sparsely furnished familiar room. Everything is in its 
place. Rebecca hangs her hat beside Josiah's, ties on her apron and 
sets one place at the table - one plate and a spoon. 

The cabin is solid. She and Josiah had set it level into hillside, 
using logs split square for the foundation and support beams. It 
had been Josiah's thought to haul flat stones from the creek bottom 
on which to rest the foundation and fill in the openings between 
the logs. To keep the winter winds out, he had said. The stone 
chimney, too, is solid. Rebecca puts two pieces of the firewood 
Josiah had split on the coals to warm the evening meal of corn 
meal mush, which she will eat with beans from the day before. 

Tall, raw-boned, her plain features are framed by a mass of 
curly, greying auburn hair, which she coils each morning into a 
bun at the nape of her neck. She unwinds the hair by pulling out 
the three bone hairpins given to her by her Pa when she was just a 

Rebecca's Pa had brought the family, her Ma and his sister, 
Grace, and herself, out to the wilderness of Kentucky from 
Virginia when she was eight years old. Rebecca had not minded 
helping him with his planting, crop tending and such during the 
day and looked forward to his teaching her to read and write by 
the fire in the evenings. She thinks of her Pa and longs for some 
kin to share the passing of Josiah as she drifts off to sleep, bone 

Dead and buried. Before day, she wakes to the thought of the 
grave still raw and the words not said. Rebecca moves quickly to 
hitch the horse to the wagon to haul stones. She chooses flat 
limestones, which she raises by prying them from the creek 

bottom with a pole for leverage and slides the stones, one at a 
time on two thin poles, which she has leaned against the creek 
bank. Rebecca then props the poles against the wagon bed and 
quickly eases the stones into the wagon, thinking how she and 
Josiah had come in the early days to picnic in the clearing near 
the creek. Used to lay out on the grass and watch the clouds sail 
past and talk about things. What they'd name the children and 
such like. 

Yesterday before day, Rebecca recalls, she had bathed the 
body, combed the hair and mustache, closed the eyes and tied 
the jaw. She had dressed him in clean clothes. Josiah, who was 
always first up to light the fire and see to morning chores, 
looked to Rebecca as if he were play-acting, patiently satisfying 
some whim of hers - playing possum - so as she could see the 
fit of the shirt and trousers she had sewed for him in the winter. 

Rebecca pushes the heavy stones off the wagon, where they 
fall beside Josiah's grave. The horse stands patiently in the 
traces. Sunlight is just filtering into the valley, burning off the 
morning mist, when she finishes rolling the stones into place. 
She stands at the foot of the grave and speaks the words asking 
their Maker to look kindly on Josiah, who never harmed a living 
thing except out of necessity. And, then to Josiah, that she will 
let his brother, Ben, know of his passing and be back by dark the 
next day. 

Josiah had been troubled off and on with pain in his side for 
several days, but never let on much. But she could tell by the 
way he was off his food and the drawn look about him. When 
she'd asked him, he'd made light of it, saying only, "It'll pass." 

Monday he'd come in early from the bottom, where he'd been 
staking the young apple trees. He'd been all bent over, holding 
his side and sweating. 

Even had Rebecca known the seriousness, it would have been 
of no use. The closest doctor was a twenty-five mile ride one 
way and she would not have left Josiah alone to ride out. 

Unhitching the wagon in the space beside the corncrib, she 
puts a blanket and gear on the horse and mounts. Horse and 
rider disappear from the clearing. Only the creak of leather and 

the occasional snort of the horse break their steady, silent, 
westward movement with the sun toward the main road. 

It would be different if there was someone else about the place. 
Had there been children, surely they would have been able to raise 
them and there would now be a family to see to. Or if there was 
only someone needing a home. The place gives plenty for a 
family. It always had. 

This plentifulness was how she and Josiah had been able to 
have Aunt Grace live with them. She'd been a simple soul, kind of 
childlike, who depended on them. It had been a sad time when 
Aunt Grace passed. They had known she would die young, since 
it is the way with those who are forever children. Still, she and 
Josiah had grieved for Aunt Grace. 

Rebecca and Josiah used to smile remembering her, how with 
hands on hips, head to one side, Aunt Grace, with assumed 
seriousness, would tell Josiah that he needed to see to that Old 
Hap. Old Hap had been chasing the squirrels from the dooryard. 
One squirrel, in particular. The squirrel which ate corn and shelled 
acorns from Aunt Grace's hand. 

With six grains of corn and two shelled acorns in her open 
palm, Aunt Grace would sit on the stoop, look straight ahead and 
wait. Pretty soon, here would come Fluffy Tail to eat daintily, 
while Aunt Grace slowly lowered her eyes to watch, hardly daring 
to breathe. Aunt Grace expected Josiah to take Hap in hand and 
teach him to mind. 

For the longest time afterward, it had seemed that Aunt Grace 
was beside her, or Rebecca would hear her chair scrape, only to 
realize that she was gone. 

Rebecca wrote in a tablet everything she could recall about 
Aunt Grace in the winter following her death. She spoke to her 
through the journal about happenings since her passing as if Aunt 
Grace were somehow aware of the changing seasons and Fluffy 
Tail looking for his friend. She had continued putting the six 
grains of corn and two shelled acorns on the stoop where Fluffy 
Tail could get at them. And yes, Aunt Grace, you 11 notice that Old 
Hap has learned to leave the squirrels in the dooiyard alone. 

In the evenings Rebecca and Josiah would sit a spell before 
going to bed. The stillness was everywhere, after Aunt Grace 


died. Josiah had looked to Rebecca, and they spoke quietly 
remembering Aunt Grace's fractiousness when the evening ritual 
of "Who is your favorite aunt?" was forgotten. On hearing "Aunt 
Grace," she had hugged them and gone to bed, content that they 
should be the ones to blow out the lantern and bank the fire. 

The horse's steady rhythmic pace brings Rebecca out of the 
valley onto the ridge. It is a good three miles more before they 
will enter the main trail. There has never been enough passing to 
make a sign of a path from the cabin out. Seasons of dropped 
foliage in the oak thicket and pines blanket the ground, cushioning 
the sounds of their passing. The sun is warm on Rebecca's worn, 
black hat. The wide brim shades her eyes. Some mountain 
women go about bareheaded, but Rebecca has worn a hat when 
outdoors since working with her Pa as a child. 

Rebecca has missed having a woman about for company. With 
another woman, there is the chance to talk about woman things. 
Some might ask why Rebecca never spoke of woman things to 
Josiah and her answer would take some thought and maybe she 
would not be able to give it words, saying it is an instinct like with 
the wild things just knowing their kind. 

Watching for signs of water to relieve their thirst, Rebecca 
thinks how she had never been with a man other than Josiah. In 
the hills, the neighbors were scattered for miles and it was a rare 
passing that had brought anyone to her Pa's place. She had been 
content to live on the homeplace and took no particular offense at 
being a spinster. Then, who should come down from the 
mountains, but Josiah Morgan, offering himself to her Pa for 
whatever work needed doing. Rebecca's Pa had taken a liking to 
Josiah, when he saw the way he could hew a square beam from a 
felled oak. Her Pa and Josiah had put up a barn and laid a supply 
of posts by that winter. The new barn had swelled with the corn 
they brought in that year. 

Rebecca and Josiah had talked now and again. He told her how 
he had come out from Kentucky after the war and had trapped for 
pelts to sell to the traders. It was a good life, he said, for a man. It 
was lonesome though. Most times, trappers would hunt in pairs 
and share the work. The life of a trapper is dangerous, especially 
when laying for the big game. A man can get killed easy. But 

Josiah was of a mind to homestead and asked Rebecca's Pa for her 
hand. "Well, seeing as how it's her hand you're asking for," he had 
answered, "you'd best ask her." Josiah did and she accepted. 

They moved out to his land when winter let up and by autumn 
had the cabin built and the first land cleared for planting. Talk, 
work and plan is what they did. It was a good time. Their bodies 
young and strong. Full of dreams. Rebecca had written of it in the 
tablet. You remember, I told you about us picking the names for 
our children. We had quite a time with that. First, he'd want to 
name our boy after his Pa, Samuel. Then, I'd want to name the 
girl after my Ma, Abigail. 

Back and forth it went. And, they waited. One year, then two. 
First thing they knew, five years had passed and then ten. And, in 
the meantime, Aunt Grace had come to live with them. 

Rebecca notices trees and brush growing thicker, giving way to 
shorter grass, making good grazing for stock. She lets the horse 
have the lead, and they move down under the dense shade of the 
treeline and then out the other side, where she hears running water. 
The horse canters toward the sound and she gets down and walks 
to the water's edge. They drink. She ties the reins to a tree limb. 

Moving out of the bright sunlight, Rebecca takes off her hat 
and feels the coolness of the light breeze stirring the oak leaves 
overhead. She can hear the horse chomping grass and the 
occasional jangling of his gear. The stubbled grass is rough on her 
hands as she lowers herself to rest against the tree. The biscuit and 
meat she brought from the cabin taste good, but she can not dwell 
on food. 

Smoothing the coarse fabric of her skirt, she hugs her knees to 
her chest. Rebecca feels tears well up and wills her grief to be 
still. Rocking, back and forth, she does not notice the cawing of 
assembling crows in the pines, but focuses on a clump of wire 
grass and the whir of a cricket. 

The horse is restless and stamps the dirt. Rebecca rises, 
brushes the twigs from her frock and walks to the water to wash 
her face and hold the wet kerchief to her throbbing temples. 

"Come on, horse, we have a long way yet to ride," she says 
leaning against the horse's neck, before swinging into the saddle to 
move back onto the trail. 

"Rebecca," Josiah had shouted, "come see! We must have 
brought this one with us." The cow, a gift from her parents, had 
calved too soon after their move for the calf to be the offspring of 
the bull they had bought off a family on the way out. 

And, there was the time Josiah had surprised Rebecca saying, 
"Let's go fishing later in the day and see if the trout will bite." He 
had been anxious to search out where their hen was nesting and 
used the hen for an excuse to walk to the creek. They had walked 
apart and fished separate, catching four trout between them. 
Josiah had set the fish on the grass, and grinning, peeled off his 
clothes and called for Rebecca to come on in. 

They were sunburned from the outdoors. Naked skin showed 
pale timid bodies in the sun dappled pool, where they had earlier 
fished for their supper. Josiah and Rebecca waded, touching. At 
first feeling the chill wetness, they moved about to warm up and 
then embraced below the surface, only to burst breathless into the 
sunlight. Josiah was first to call out, "Rebecca, come. Let's get on 
back. We'll sleep sound from playing in the creek." The sun 
warm in their clothes, they lingered laughing and talking, 
gathering the fish and poles. Rebecca had had to remind him, 
"Josiah, I'll help you get the stock fed, so we'll have time before 
night to bring up the hen." 

Arriving at the clearing, she hears first one dog and then 
another barking. Rebecca tosses the reins over the gate post and 
dismounts. Sarah Morgan comes out onto the stoop, wiping her 
hands on her apron and squinting into the sun. She recognizes 
Josiah's wife and embraces her, sensing there is trouble, else 
Rebecca would not have come alone on horseback. 

"Sarah, Josiah died yesterday morning. I promised him I would 
let Ben know." Sarah acknowledges the news, clucking and 
shaking her head side to side, and allows, "I knew it had to be 
something dire when you rode in by yourself." Sarah hurries to 
hammer the bell for Ben and their grown son, Emanuel, to come 
in from the woods, where they are snaking fallen timber. 

Rebecca sits long into the night with Josiah's kin, telling how it 
had been with them. "Josiah has a good stand of apple trees in the 
bottom, Ben. You remember, he got those trees from your 
orchard. He was proud of them, too. Said we'll be drying apples 


afore long." Rebecca goes on to let them know the condition of 
the place, practical things, like the corn half grown and promising, 
the clutch of eggs that had hatched off and all the biddies still 
accounted for when she had ridden out. 

Ben and Sarah sit close on either side of Rebecca. They speak 
out their concerns as to whether she can manage alone. Ben shifts 
to face her. "Rebecca," he says, "Josiah was my only kin outside 
this family here. It's fitting now that you should look to us. 
Emanuel has his eye on a girl from across the neighboring valley. 
Wants to marry. Would you be willing for Emanuel and his wife 
to live with you?" 

Rebecca does not speak for a time. She thinks instead of the 
clearing back at the cabin, tracks on tracks forming in the 
dooryard, and the mark of her hard soles on the creek path, 
wearing the dirt down. 

"They will be most welcome," she answers. 

At first light, in the saddle, Rebecca flicks the reins and the 
horse moves out to retrace the steps of the day before. 

It had been a day such as this, but in the autumn, when 
Rebecca's Pa had rode out to tell her and Josiah that her Ma had 
died. He had stayed only long enough to rest a spell and tell of 
it~how she had been ailing with her legs and feet swelling and 
shortness of breath. He had found her dead in bed beside him. 
Rebecca thinks of her Pa now, how he had just gone right on 
working the farm, doing what needed to be done. / remember Pa. 
I remember. They say age brings acceptance of things in life. 
Necessity brings acceptance, Pa. Age just makes it more certain. 

Old Hap sets up a raucous welcome, barking. Tail flipping, he 
circles Rebecca and the horse. She had felt guilty shutting him up, 
but he was needed about the place. Old Hap, as she had known he 
would, had climbed out of the corncrib by way of the lean-to as 
soon as he had quit barking at the closed door. 

Rebecca secures the place against the dark. Tonight, the glow 
from the fireplace is not enough. She lights the lamp. Familiar 
sounds of the valley echo out across the bottom. The whippoorwill 
calls, is quiet, then calls from the far side of the valley. Rebecca 


feels the lonesome sound, the whippoorwill's call, and thinks how 
the wild things call out to one another, just as folks do and grieve, 
too. Seems the natural way is to call out. Rebecca longs to 
scream like the panther and hear an answering cry of recognition. 

She takes the pocketknife that had been Josiah's from her 
pocket and sharpens the wooden pencil, letting the shavings fall 
into her lap. Rising, she empties her apron over the hearth. 
Sparks fly up the chimney as the shavings hit embers. 

Josiah, I've been to tell Ben about you. We're going to have 
someone on the place again. You remember the comfort Aunt 
Grace was even with her being simple. Ben and I talked. 
Emanuel is aiming to take a wife. They will live on the place with 

She sits gazing into the fire, idly caressing the small, oval stone 
Josiah had found in the creek. Josiah, she thinks, you kept a light 
kindly way with you all our time together. You were forever 
bringing in a pretty and leaving it for me to find, the first Johnny 
jumpup, a buttercup, a jaybird's feather stuck in my hat-this rock 
from the creek bottom so smooth I'd mistook it for a hen's egg 
sitting there on the eating table. 

Letting down the heavy braid, Rebecca places the three bone 
hairpins on the mantel beside Josiah's pocketknife. Her bare feet 
cross the hewn oak floor and she kneels on the rag rug beside her 
bed. In bed, she moves into the cold imprint of Josiah, and the 

Old Hap rises from outside the doorway to answer her cries in 
the dark night. His howls echo through the valley. Scudding 
clouds give wings to the moon. 


Werner's Barn 

gelatin silver print 
Sue Bishop-Stapleton 


The Boneyard, Wassaw Island, February 1994 

for Dana 

We name the place with our marrow 
metamorphosized in bleached wood and air. Spaces 
that hold sacred another's pain hold the walking through 
arthritic hip twists and elbow branches that ghost my living 

We stand between histories; the waves keep 
and sound decisions already made, 
choices still to make. 

We mark raccoon prints, delicate tracings 
point to language offshore, 
chart the knowing when to leave, 
what to leave behind. 

Martha Marinara 


Fire Man 

gelatin silver print 
Stephanie Raines 




gelatin silver print 
Stephanie Raines 


The Mud of Me 

I grab at nothing 

In the mud 

My hands are digging 

Scraping downward to harder ground 

I let the soup of clay 

Swallow my arms 

And cover my face 

As I raise my body 

Covered in gray 

To the fire in the sky 

I feel the lumps 

Crust onto my skin 

Though my body aches 

And the mud slows my motion 

It feels good 

That I can no longer move. 

Brant Freeman 


Tree Nineteen 

gelatin silver print 
Lee Nettles 


The Partings 

When I left Cork in '55, 

I thought meself a strong man to survive that sorrow. 

But now I know that I felt that way 

Because I was certain 

That never again would I face such loss. 

I was born a child of famine, 

And many 's the keen of lamentation that I have heard. 

And yet I remember the voice of my father 

As he lent to the skies a kindly hope 

In the hills of Kilmichael in West Cork. 

Twas there I was parted from all I loved, 

From hearth, and kin, and storied lands, 

And I was certain 

That never again would I face such loss. 

But Christmas week in '64, 

The Regulars were pulled from our line of works 

And marched through the streets of Savannah. 

Twas midnight, and we were the veterans 

In Hardee's coastal army. 

As we entered Savannah the shelling began, 

And the people ran screaming in the streets 

As the shells tore through their homes. 

They were Irish, and Cracker, and Negro, and Jew, 

And I heard in their cries, the cries of my people. 

And I felt the lash of anger and shame 

As I felt at Cobh harbor, when last I held my father. 

Though he trembled in my arms, the voice was strong, 

" Tis Americay for ye ! " 

Our bridge was a pontoon of rice barges, 
Framed by the light of the Yank's shelling, 
And our own engineers as they set off charges 
In the boats of the harbor. 
We cut loose the barges as we crossed, 


Firing many along the way, 

Until we stood on the far shore. 

Such a scene of desolation ... of drifting fire and smoke. 

Padraic slipped beside me as the Regulars began to march. 

1 Tis strange and lovely, " he softly spoke. 

" Aye, " said meself, " before, it was a town I lived in, 

And now it is my home. " 

O land of aching beauty, ye have taken me so, 

And now I see your ruin 

As I wander famished in this land born to plenty. 

Old heart that is breaking, 

See me through this hour, 

That I might bear the weight of these partings. 

Jim Buttimer 



You have a good home 

When it is there 

You have food to eat 

When their bites don't choke you 

You have a comfortable bed 

When their pillows let you breathe 

You have a protecting roof 

When it doesn t collapse on your head 

You've got love 

When it isnt hating you 

You've got a good life 

And then some. 

Brant Freeman 

On the Mall, 1987 


Sold with lies 
(would you buy a war from this man?) 
bought with lives 

(long black wall) 

Glenn Murphy 


Against the Wall 

gelatin silver print 
Elizabeth Welsh 


The Cradle 

Half charred Oak trees, 

their branches almost touching, 

encircle fallen chimneys and ruined timbers 

creating a dark cradle, a refuge 

for old rhythms and new. 

Hazy impressions of a pale slender lady 

in a soft yellow gown 

glimmer through new growths of wild roses, 

their bright pink cascades incongruent 

against cold black ashes. 

Petals, grasping a gentle breeze, 

challenge the stillness 

and throw showers of color 

to the gray burned earth. 

Time seems disconcerted, 

as though searching through 

the tangled rabbit warrens 

that surround these ruins. 

Twisting and folding 

what was into what will become, 

blending yesterdays into tomorrows, 

as drops of Spring rain fall 

on fragments of jeweled glass. 

The still living branches 

of the great Oaks whisper and wave 

as storm clouds arrive. 

Their blackened comrades, 

caught in rigid death, 

are unmoving. 

Sensations belonging to yesterday 

linger yet, even in the beginning rain. 


Flashes of colors against darkening skies- 
glimpses of sunlight through stained glass. 
The sound of a horse and buggy, 
echoing faintly from the obscure lane 
mingles with the rain's soft music. 
Quickly, then, they are gone- 
as the jarring thunder 
dilutes the stillness 
and the strangeness. 

Brenda Talley 


Marsh Grass 

gelatin silver print 
Jeanette Pastrana 



I visited you like a dark closet, 

vast room full of acacia trees, 

wandering elephants, and tall old men 

walking alone- 

I thought your solitude 

would help me remember the rhythms I lost 

or had never found before. 

But the orange hot sky 

was an unending mirage of movement; 

bush, trees, animal and man 

changed places, ate one another. 

They folded into dust 

on an endless plain. 

I thought it would be different. 

I thought I would be changed. 

But in Africa, blood shed is the same red as mine, 

and the blackened bruise of wars 

is like any from where I come. 

I look again into that secret place, 

for that magical bird with a peaceful song, 

and the sounds of ourselves 

we have yet to hear. 

Carlyn C. Bland 



Shall I tell you again how you move 

me to move aside the stone 

and not be buried next to Christ 

or Mozart or Vincent or James Dean 

or unknown other lovers doomed 

by wooing good and sainthood, loving love? 

Must I replay the part where you reveal 
new meaning to the same old tide 
as I resurface to your mouth and breast, 
unearth once more that prized imperfect shell? 

I'd crawl the beaches of this shrinking coast, 
I'd even learn to swim (my stroke enough 
to startle sharks), undo a star 
before I'd lose the memory of the undertow, 
forget the ages of your face and you on fire. 

David Starnes 


Woman With Sword Among Poppies 

collage with acrylic 
Theresa Anderson 

Night Swimming 

Once, when inspired by a midsummer's moon, 
I snatched up my car keys and an old blanket. 
The heat rose from the pavement in waves 
As I drove into the deepening darkness. 
I longed for the feel of seashell sprinkled sand 
And the overpowering smell of ocean salt. 

I could almost taste the pungent salt 

In the air as I faced the golden moon 

And sank to my knees in the light-soaked sand. 

I spread the faded, near-forgotten blanket 

And imagined being swallowed by the darkness, 

Struck deaf by the crashing of the waves. 

I wanted to be engulfed by the waves, 
Wanted them to cover me with their salt 
Kisses and hold me in the deep darkness 
Of their embrace. The ever-present moon 
Caused me to abandon my tattered blanket 
For the comfort of fresh seaweed and sand. 

I stood and dropped my clothes onto the sand, 
Then ran into the whiteness of the waves. 
The water warmed me more than had my blanket. 
I licked my lips and tasted, not bitter salt, 
But wine. All the while, the omniscient moon 
Watched me swirl in the murky darkness 

Of the sea. But she also split the darkness; 
Her beams reflected off the wet sand 
Revealing my naked flaws. How cruel, Moon, 
I thought as I slipped beneath the waves. 
So illumined, not one grain of salt 
Escapes her sight. I floundered for my blanket. 


I shivered and struggled into the blanket. 

Why couldn't I drown my sorrows in the darkness? 

My eyes stung with bitter tears of salt. 

I tried to brush away the clinging sand. 

My body had not been purged by the waves. 

My footprints remained, frozen by the moon. 

The moon followed me through the darkness 
And caused the waves I made to lose their salt. 
I left my blanket buried in the sand. 

Amy Rene Hartley 



Oh why have you forsaken 
The part that makes sense- 
Little lamb dost thou care 
Who made thee? 
With your little neck broke in the fence 

I went back to the clapboard house 
And saw the ragged girl in the swing- 
She asked me why and I told her then 
There's a hole in the porch 
"Don't go in." 

Oh why have you forsaken 
Tyger, tyger in the night- 
Lips wet with blood in the backyard 
An old dead face, another dream, and 
Then the drop 

Remember when men knew God 
I blew the horn to call him down 
Floated for days and still no sign 
But a hurricane, out of breath. 

Lauretta Harmon 


Rise Left 

gelatin silver print 
Jennifer Colson 




gelatin silver print 
Shannon Varley 

A Smile a Day 

black line graphic 
Stacy McClain 


The Mental Office Party of Joe Shmoe 

Kimberly Kent 

"Hey," says one of Joe's Subconscious Thoughts, holding a 
martini in one hand and stopping one of Joe's Conscious Thoughts 
with the other. "Aren't you one of the Conscious Thoughts?" 

"Why, yes," says the C.T. "I'm from the Moral Crossroads 
section of his mind." 

"Wow," counters the S.T. "You're one of the big boys! 
Usually at these parties I end up meeting the guy who chooses 
what Joe will have for lunch. I've never actually met a morality 

"Well," says the C.T. humbly. "I've just been promoted. I used 
to work in the Joe-at-his-job section - you know, sorting papers, 
talking on the phone ~ that sort of thing. All this right-and- wrong 
stuff is pretty new to me." 

"That's great!" says the S.T. genuinely happy. "From what I 
understand about Conscious Thoughts, you guys don't move 
around very much, so you must be someone pretty special." 

By this point the C.T. is blushing from all the praise. "I doubt 
that," he says. "It's just that Joe is going through kind of a big 
deal right now. I'm sure you've heard about it. He's considering 
having an affair with that woman in his office, but he really loves 
his wife and all that--" 

"Wait!" The S.T.'s mouth falls open. "This affair idea has 
worked its way into echelons so high that they're starting to move 
around Conscious Thoughts?" 

"Yeah, they need the extra thought power." 

The S.T. nods his head enthusiastically. "Hot damn!" he 
mutters then slaps the C.T. on the back affably. "I started that 
whole thing!" 

"Really?" asks the C.T. Now he's the one who sounds 

"Yeah," says the S.T. "I did this whole dream thing about 
her and a dolphin ~ it was pretty racy." He nudges the C.T. with 
the elbow of his arm not holding the martini. 


"I'm surprised you got that through your supervisors," the C.T. 
responds. "We could never get away with anything like that." 

"Well," says the S.T. "Our supervisors are pretty lax. You can 
get away with almost anything in the Subconscious. The only rule 
seems to be: the stranger the idea, the better." 

"Hey," the S.T. says, changing the subject. "You see that guy 
over there, the one asleep by the punch bowl? Who the hell is 

"Oh," answers the C.T. "That's the delegate from the 
Unconscious department. They are some seriously lazy bastards 
over there. They never send more than one guy to these parties, 
and he always falls asleep the second he gets in the door." 

"Some people!" sighs the S.T. 

"Well, look." The C.T. glances at his watch while he speaks. 
"It's getting late, and you probably have to be starting work pretty 
soon." The S.T. nods and the C.T. continues, "So, I'll be getting 
out of your way. I'm tired and it's time to go home." 

The S.T. nods. "It's been good talking to you," he says then 
pauses. "Hey, just to give you a little edge, let me tell you what 
I'm working on right now." 

"You'd do that?" the C.T. asks gratefully. 

"Sure," says the S.T. "Think mid-life crisis. I know I am." 



gelatin silver print 
Shannon Varley 


The Surrender 

gelatin silver print 
Jennifer Heidmann 


Recollection #1, 1950 (six years old) 

Lauretta Harmon 

The Indian Princess remembers it all — of being packed in a 
straw bed with three sisters and a brother in the dead winter, all ill 
and freezing cold - the sudden sound of vomit hitting the slop jar. 
She recalls her brother Buddy ramming chicken shit down her 
throat and Granny Tanner's sure-fire cure for pink-eye, "Squat and 
pee into your hands; then rub your eyes real good." But what she 
remembers most is the way she felt when Mama left. 

It was getting dark and the Indian Princess was scared. She 
had not seen Mama all day, and her papa, known to everyone as 
"Bennie T," was an infrequent visitor to the clapboard shack. He 
had Creek Indian blood and looked strange - like a dark-skinned, 
itinerant Welshman - all of five feet tall. When Bennie T did 
come round he would stumble trying to pick up the little girl - 
leaving his smell of corn whiskey and Buttercup snuff all in her 
face. "You're my P.B.E. - Princess Brown Eyes," he would slur, 
making the words with strained, exaggerated lips and great 
pungent exhalations. 

Night fell on the porch and still no sign of Mama. Unknown 
to her children, she had made the escape to Florida with a man 
who had an automobile and was nearly handsome. Nobody in the 
town of River Wall would see her again for ten years. 

When it was barely light the next morning, the children 
walked to town on the sharp dirt floor road. Their toes sank in the 
red Georgia clay - the kind you could make death masks out of. 
The few scrappy patches of grass along the way seemed to band 

The Indian Princess at last made her appearance in town, 
exhausted after carrying her nine-month-old sister the whole way. 
The girl who was to become the most beautiful woman in 
Johnston County played her first small scene quietly, without 
fumbling a line. 



gelatin silver print 
Laura Green 


Slap Jack 

Christina Van Dyke 

When I was six we lived in a mobile home out off of Highway 
80. My mom used to complain about how small the place was and 
how when you walked the walls shook. I thought we lived in a 
mansion. The neatest part about it was that the walls really did 
move. I came home one day after school to find our den had just 
grown about four feet. My dad had unlatched the paneled wall 
and expanded the room. I guess so my mom would stop whining. 
It was truly the coolest thing I had ever seen. We celebrated that 
night in our "new and improved den" by watching The Donny and 
Marie Show and eating lots of chocolate covered marshmallow 
cookies called pin wheels. My dad and I ended up making a mess 
and getting crumbs all over the couch and on our clothes. I was 
sent to the bathroom to wash my hands but stood in the hallway 
and licked the chocolate marshmallow mush from between my 
fingers instead. When I got back into the den my dad had the 
cards out on the coffee table. 

"Ready to play Slap Jack, chocolate mouth?" he smiled. I was, 
and hurried around to the table to position my hand close to the 
cards. I watched him shuffle the cards, his big hands keeping 
them all organized and stiff. (Whenever I tried to shuffle we 
would spend ten minutes picking cards up off of the floor.) 
Tapping the cards on the table, dad reminded me of the rules. 

"You can't use both hands. And dads always win." 

"Daaad!" I laughed. "Just go." 

Slowly he would lay the cards down in the center of the table. 
The middle part was glass so whenever he picked one up from the 
deck I tried to catch a glimpse of its reflection before he laid it 
faceup. Ten of diamonds. Four of clubs. The next one I knew 
was a face card because he slid it to the edge of the deck and then 
paused, teasing me about my hand being too close to his. I just 
wanted him to flip it over so I could slap it before he could. My 
hand edged its way closer to the deck. When he flipped it, it 


turned out to be the Queen of spades but I slapped it anyway. In 
all of the excitement we knocked over my mom's glass of diet 
Shasta and had to clear the table while she mopped up the 
magazines and the tv guide. I played with the cards on the floor 
while my dad helped my mom. I attempted to reshuffle but 
decided to search out all the Jacks and position them near the top 
of the deck so that I would know when they were coming up. Dad 
was preoccupied over by the couch and so he didn't see me. As 
soon as the coffee table was clean again I put them in the center 
ready to start a new game. 

"You don't have to shuffle 'em, Dad. I did it for you." 

As he settled himself on the floor beside me he took off his 
white t-shirt and threw it into the rocking chair that sat under the 

"Frances, it's hot in here. Go turn the air down to 65," he 
yelled to my mom, who must have still been in the kitchen. 

"O.K. , mess maker, you ready to lose?" he said as he nudged 
me with his elbow. 

"Nuh huh," I said back, shaking my head back and forth so fast 
that my pig tails whipped me in the face. Once again the cards 
were eased from the deck and flipped upright, revealing spades, 
aces and hearts. After about eight cards, I thought for sure that a 
Jack would be next. Three cards later, the Jack of diamonds 
appeared and got slapped by my dad first. My hand slapped the 
top of his knuckles and I could feel the stone in the top of his class 
ring hitting my palm. 

"What's wrong, slow poke? I thought you were going to win 
this time," he teased. 

"I got three more chances to get the Jacks," I pouted. He 
laughed and waved the Jack of diamonds around in front of me. 

"This is what a Jack looks like in case you forgot," he 

"I can't play like this, Dad. I'm too hot in here," I whined as I 
pulled off my little yellow Garanimal's shirt with the calico cat on 
the front. I tossed the shirt across the room but missed the rocking 
chair. The yellow ball lay rumpled on the floor. My dad's hazel 
eyes just popped out in amazement. 


"What are you doing? Get your shirt back on. Little girls don't 
go around without shirts on." 

"Why not? You don't have a shirt on. I'm just hot like you," I 

"Frances!" he yelled. "Frances, come in here and tell Christina 
to get her shirt on." 

I heard my mom padding around the corner so I crawled across 
the carpet to reach for my shirt. Bare feet and a faded pink terry 
cloth robe entered from the hallway. A little round mirror and 
silver tweezers clinked together as she set them down on top of the 

"What's going on in here?" she questioned my dad, her voice 
tense with irritation. She looked at the twisted shirt in my hand. 

"What did you do?" 

"I'm hot," I snapped loudly. My face flushed with fear as I 
watched my mom's freshly tweezed eyebrows burrow into her 

"Tell her to put her shirt on, Frances. Little girls don't go 
around bare chested. She's going to catch a cold," my dad said, 
moving from around the coffee table and settling down in his 
coiner of the couch. His black-socked feet resting on the top of 
the Woman's Day magazine replaced the elbows that were there 
only minutes ago. 

"Your dad's right. Get your shirt on. It's bedtime anyway," 
she announced as she headed towards me and scooted me out of 
the den and down the hall. 

I stomped my feet as I headed to my room. The door to the 
bathroom shook from the vibration. Shutting my light out, I 
tossed myself on top of the Holly Hobby comforter on my bed. I 
lay crumpled on the cool sheets. Shirtless and shivering, I reached 
for my stuffed animal, Kitty, and tried to go to sleep sucking my 
thumb. It was sticky from the marshmallow goo I had not washed 
off earlier. I drifted off with the taste of chocolate in my mouth 
and the sound of my mom's voice through the paneled wall. 

"Julian, are you coming to bed? Bring my mirror and tweezers 
when you do. And turn the air down a bit. It's hot back here." 


Beyond the Stairs 

gelatin silver print 
Elizabeth Welsh 


Blue Glass 

Geraldine Provence 

In the Crescent City/Houston County Jail, Mittie Jensen - 
grey-haired, stodgy, child-like - hid her face in her apron on being 
escorted into the darkened cell. Unaware they stared at her, Mittie 
hunched over and held the garment in place with both hands. Her 
astonishment had been instant and electric on seeing Hazel, 
Constance, Diedre, Magdelena and Coral, who had been brought 
in earlier following a sweep on Ross Wing Boulevard. The painted 
women in scared hair and howling colors were riveting, fancy 
strutting birds in a coop. 

"What's the matter, sweetie?" asked Constance, the tallest of the 
prostitutes. "Why not take the apron off your head and be 
sociable? All that wailing is giving my headache a bad time." 

Mittie plopped down on a bench and didn't look up. She 
needed time to think. She had covered her head out of alarm. 
Each cell-mate wore a trade image, images which had startled 
Mittie: Hazel's black leather and swirling hair, Diedre's feather 
boa and pink hotpants, skin-tight red satin split up the side on 
Coral, and Constance in a sequined green body suit. Magdalena's 
velvet black body glowed in tinseled silver lame. 

A hand touched Mittie's shoulder. She felt the bench sway and 
smelled perfume. "It's o.k.," the tall girl said as she sat down, 
"Nobody is going to bother you. Come on. Look at me. Tell me 
why you're here. My name is Constance Bailey, and I've been in 
and out of here more than I like to think about. Just earning a 
living. If there wasn't a demand for what we sell, we wouldn't be 
in here. It makes me mad as hell. Just capitalism at work. Do 
you need a lawyer?" 

Mittie peeped from behind one hand. The apron fell. She felt 
in her left pocket and took out a clean wadded cloth and rubbed it 
across her eyes and then held it against her nose, snuffling into the 
wrinkled fabric. She bunched the rag and jammed it securely in 
the opposite pocket. 


The five women stopped talking. Mittie waited in the 
sudden quiet. Only Magdalena moved, her jaw rhythmically 
working a wad of purple gum between gleaming teeth. 

"It's o.k.," whispered Constance. "I was scared my first time. I 
cussed the hypocritical sons of bitches to keep from bawling. It's 
o.k. Are you in for soliciting?" 

Mittie turned "soliciting" over in her head. "No," she said, "it 
ain't that. I don't hardly know why I'm here, since for forty-five 
years I've lived as my Daddy before me and his Daddy before him. 
Making and selling to regulars and setting aside a portion for the 

A male deputy stopped to listen through the barred divider. 
Mittie hushed. 

In unison the four standing moved forward. Eight hands on 
eight bars. Four pairs of eyes held the intruder. He reddened, 
dropped his gaze and keyring. Snatching the keys off the floor, he 
strode into the office and tripped on the threshold. Examining the 
floor, and the bottom of each shoe, he swore, "Hot damn!," and 
ran a forefinger between starched blue collar and flushed Adam's 

"What'd they say to you, Charlie?" guffawed the dispatcher. 

"Mind your own business." 

Mittie went on, "The only lawyer I've known, Giles Stoner, 
died not two years after my Daddy passed." 

"I'll have Lester Smalls take care of you," said Constance. 
"He'll be along soon. Hazel called him while we were being 

Hearing her name, Hazel, backlit red hair ablaze, sat down 
beside Mittie, stretched her mesh-encased legs straight out and 
crossed her ankles. 

Mittie was aware of the contrast to her own flat canvas shoes, 
white ankle socks and chubby knees. She leaned in just a bit. 
Hazel's eyes, big and blue as robins' eggs, and framed by long 
black lashes, looked back at her. Mittie's look shifted to her 
shimmering blue glass earrings. They reminded her of sunup. 

"What are you doing here?" Hazel asked. "What's your name?" 

"I'm Mittie Jensen and I live out in the county near Flood River 
Bridge. They've locked me up for selling homemade liquor. I'd 


appreciate meeting your Lawyer Smalls. Always before, the law 
has been satisfied to have an occasional pint. This new bunch sent 
this fellar out to my place, acted like I wanted to poison him. He 
said, 'You're under arrest,' and all that about my rights. Never 
harmed anyone. Mind my own affairs. Worked out I never made 
more than I sold. I need to be home seeing to things. Officer 
asked me when he told me to get in the car did I want to lock up 
the place. From who, I asked him." Mittie pursed her lips tight to 
shut off the torrent of words. 

Coral, slant-eyed with gold embroidery on her red satin standup 
collar, stood erect, speaking softly. 

"It's the same with us, Mittie," she said. 

"Listen up girls, have we forced anybody to buy our favors?" 

Chuckles rippled. 

Hazel hooted, slapping her leather skirt, "More apt to be the 
other way around." 

"Well, none of us deserves to be locked up," Constance added, 
"including Mittie. The politicians are making a stir so it looks like 
they're doing something. As soon as Lester Smalls gets here and 
posts bail, we'll be out." 

"Mr. Smalls," Mittie insisted neighborly after accepting his 
offer of a ride to her place, "Get out and let me show you my 
garden and gather you a basket of fresh eggs." 

"Now, Miss Jensen, you don't need to do that, but I would like 
to walk around and stretch my legs before heading back." 

"Jensens have lived here for over one hundred years, making 
liquor and growing vegetables, raising chickens, selling and 
sharing the extra. Never sold anything not good enough for our 
own use. Now you take these onions here." Mittie got down on 
one knee and stirred the worked earth to free the white bulb. 
Handed it to Smalls. 

"It's tender and sweet," Mittie said, explaining the benefits of 
mulching, while gathering onions in her apron. 


"You see those red-feathered chickens?" she pointed. "They're 
laying fourteen eggs a day. Chicken manure makes good fertilizer. 
Have to work it in gradual. Too strong used straight. Could burn 
the plants." 

They circled the henhouse, gathering eggs. Fourteen. Smalls 
took the basket Mittie reached toward him. She cradled an extra 
large egg in her palm. Smiled a toothsome grin. 

"Two yolks," she boasted. 

Into a cardboard box alongside the onions and a sack of eggs, 
Mittie put a jar of pear preserves, and a jar of clear liquid from a 
row of Mason pint jars in the pantry. 

"Miss Jensen, you are a generous lady. Mrs. Smalls will be as 
pleased as I am to share your bounty." 

Touching his hat, he nodded, opened the car door and put his 
right foot onto the floorboard. 

"By the way, Miss Jensen, it would be wise to take the rest of 
the summer off. Know what I mean? Constance, Hazel and the 
girls have gone to Orlando, asked me to give you this." He put his 
hand inside his coat and handed Mittie a sealed white envelope. 
There was no writing on the outside. 

Mittie put the envelope in her apron pocket and waved as 
Smalls drove off. 

She leaned down and picked up the white cat rubbing against 
her ankles and held him purring atop her stomach, stroked his fur 
and thought about the trouble that had come to her since Sheriff 
John Aimes had lost his job. He had been summarily fired by the 
politicians following consolidation. 

The last time she had seen him, she had heard his pickup turn 
off the paved road that Tuesday. She had, as usual, placed a jar on 
the crossbeam beside the corner post of the front fence, and was 
weeding the flower beds, when he rounded the curve. He had 
slowed to a stop, lifted the jar and held it up admiringly before 
tipping his cap to Mittie. 

Mittie had kept on weeding. 

She walked on, stroking the cat, among the brick and bottle- 
bordered flower beds, where the angled bricks formed toothed 
ridges and the bottles, necks down and perpendicular, stood in no 


particular order. The Jensen trade signal-one blue Milk of 
Magnesia bottle-marked each of the circular beds and collectively 
made an "X." 

Aimes had ridden by on that Tuesday and she had heard on 
Saturday that he had gone off the Trout River Bridge and drowned 
in the swollen current. Afterward, he lay on a marble slab at the 
Shady Grove Mortuary waiting his family's decision whether to 
bury him in the uniform he'd faithfully worn, and shed in anguish, 
or put him away in the navy blue gaberdine suit, white shirt and 
business tie suggested by Jamie Suggs, the undertaker. Mittie felt 
they should have used the obsolete free uniform, which they could 
appropriately split up the back. 

In the heat of the afternoon, the crown of her white hair showed 
above the weeds, intermittently visible as she moved toward the 
cache of pints from the last cooking buried in the hay of the barn. 
Her Daddy had kept his horse and buggy there. The horse had 
long since died. The buggy's shay leaned, propped on a section of 
sycamore trunk. 

It was Mittie's custom to make four cookings each year in the 
scrupulously cleaned stainless steel drums, which glowed under 
the canopy of dense growth west of the pasture. To the 
unknowzing eye, it would have appeared the area was 
undisturbed, a wooded tract with a winding path running through, 
which started at the dooryard, circled the chickenhouse, 
meandered through the woods to the creek and back again — a 
simple weathered country house and an ageless path to nowhere in 
particular and everywhere in general, used by four generations of 

The cracked leather seats were brittle to her touch, the springed 
supports well oiled and rust free. A nesting Rhode Island Red hen 
occupied the rear of the buggy and watched from the shadows as 
Mittie loaded the jars into the wheelbarrow. 

The chinaberry's shadow at the edge of the porch set the time 
at one hour past noon the next day, when Mittie heard the quiet 


hum of a car motor and the snapping of twigs under the tires. She 
lay in the swing on the small back porch. Squawk. Squawk. The 
chains marked its movement. 

The front gate opened and clanked shut. Hard soles clicked on 
the bricked walkway, followed by hollow echoes on the planked 
porch. She waited for the knock on the screendoor before lifting 
her head from the faded blue and white striped ticking of the 
feather pillow. 

Mittie opened the back screen and let it slam silently against the 
rubber tire strip nailed in the jamb. Her shoes made no sound as 
she walked down the front hall. 

"Howdy," Mittie spoke, startling the badged uniformed 

She had wondered who would replace Sheriff Aimes after 
reading the article linking his drowning to "illicit liquor in two 
Mason pint jars," which had floated to the surface in Trout River. 
The water had hidden Aimes and the truck. The satchel 
containing the jars had surfaced - like a balloon. 

Officer Grimes handed Mittie an envelope, touched his right 
hand to the wide brimmed hat shading his sun-glasses, said 
"Ma'am," and galloped down the steps to the official vehicle 
sparkling outside the fence, motor running. 

"You are hereby ordered to appear in the Superior Court of 
Houston County, Alabama, at 9:00 a.m. on the sixth day of June 
1951 ..." Mittie carefully replaced the typed sheet, laid the 
envelope on the kitchen table beside the smaller one, which Smalls 
had given her, and sat down to think. 

Shade had extended past the porch, merged with the shadow of 
the house and crossed the side yard into the open space outside the 
fence, when Mittie stirred. Out front, the white sandy lane was 
banded by the last narrowed strip of sunlight before nightfall. 

At sunrise, Mittie stood at the corner of the house and watched 
blue fire glow in the Milk of Magnesia bottles, before pulling 
them from the circles and laying them gently in the wheelbarrow. 

Under the shed beside the barn, she added a hammer, pliers, 
shovel, hoe, and hacksaw to the load on the wheelbarrow and took 
two burlap sacks off the nails where they hung between chores. 


It took Mittie most of the morning to dismantle the still and 
move it aside to get where the metal plates were supposed to cover 
the hole, the hole which she had never seen uncovered and only 
knew about from one of her Daddy's last in a series of talks giving 
instructions about the place. Mittie had known much from 
observation. The hole had been news. 

Mittie put the tubing and concrete blocks inside the drums, 
which she had set well to the side, and placed the edge of the 
spoon-shaped spade at what she determined to be just clear of the 
metal plates and pushed the clean sharp edge into the packed soil. 
She thought of the many Jensens who had walked around on the 
undisturbed ground, especially her Daddy. 

She lifted the clodded earth and set it aside, careful to fix in her 
mind where she put it. She remembered to follow his directions 
exactly - "Spade a long straight furrow and move over to make 
another in the shape of a rectangle, eight feet long by four feet 
wide." She planned to put the dirt back exactly as she had found 

Resting, Mittie sat in the wheelbarrow. She noticed the sunlit 
trees' patterning shade and the answered call of a loon. She liked 
the smell of the turned, pungent earth and sang tunelessly, "You, 
you, lie in my heart ... Ya, ya, ya, ya!" Alert, she caught the 
whine of a motor before seeing the airplane circling on the 

She spread the burlap bags over the partially shaded drums and 
moved the wheelbarrow into deeper shade. When the plane's 
motor died away, Mittie stepped inside the outlining furrow to 
excavate the hole, clod by clod. 

She wiped the moisture from her forehead with a rag from the 
left pocket of her apron and polished her wire-rim glasses in the 
folds of moist fabric before wadding the rag into a ball and placing 
it in the opposite pocket. 

During the heat of the day, Mittie went back to the house and 
rested on the back porch swing after her mid-day meal, before 
returning to the clearing. 

She filled in the hole and covered the traces of her digging, 
and thought of the date marked on the calendar in the kitchen 


(June 6, 195 1 ), which was the next morning. That evening, she 
wound the alarm clock and set the time for 6:30 a.m. 


She walked out to the paved road and flagged down the red, 
white and silver Trailways bus heading east to Crescent City at 
7:30 that Tuesday morning. In town, before walking the three 
blocks to the Court House, she spent a few minutes at the ticket 
window and rented a locker, in which she stored the two boxes 
tied with heavy cord (one medium sized and a shoe box). The 
lingering musky smell from the shoe box was still about her. but 
fainter after Mittie shut the door, locked it and made the key safe 
in her pocket with a safety pin. 

In the courthouse. Lawyer Smalls greeted her quietly and 
showed her where to sit. She didn't look around. Just sat. 
Waiting patiently. She went forward when the judge called her 
name and she placed her right hand on the Bible. She heard the 
words clearly and spoke them back: "I, Mittie Jensen, do 
solemnly swear ..." 

The judge said, "Do you manufacture liquor on your place?" 

"No," Mittie answered. 

"You don't? It says here that you are charged with the 
manufacture and sale of liquor." 

"I did." she said. " Now I don't." 

The judge lectured Mittie, slammed the gavel and mouthed. 
"One thousand dollars or six months to serve." He watched for 
Mittie's reaction over half glasses. 

She paid the fine, laying ten one hundred dollar bills out on the 
counter. The clerk recounted the bills, feeling the paper and 
rubbing his thumb over the print. Mittie noticed his nostrils quiver 
and waited for him to say something, but he didn't. 

The bus was nearer full than it had been that morning. Mittie 
sat by the window, scooted back on the seat and smoothed her 
dress over her knees. Her feet did not touch the floor, but stuck 


out a little. She counted the mile markers along the highway until 
the windows turned to darkening mirrors at sundown. 

She felt in her sweater pocket - beneath the wadded up cloth - 
and held the envelope in her hand, feeling the shape. Mittie's heart 
beat faster and she heard the tires singing against the pavement. 
She smiled to herself and thought back to that afternoon, when she 
had removed the three cans from the hole and had set them aside, 
while storing all the parts of the still, unsold pint jars of liquor, and 
the blue-fire bottles in the hole. With the bottles gone, folks would 
know. And there had been the one incident with the neighbor's 
boy and the slingshot. 

She had opened all three cans before examining the contents of 
any - paper money tied with string and an assortment of silver 
and gold coins. She had counted the folding money and coins 
from one can ($1,685.23) before replacing the remaining two back 
into the hole. 

Mittie took the small envelope out of her pocket. She opened 
the flap and slipped out the picture. Five bathing-suited girls 
smiled up at her from beside a swimming pool. There were palm 
trees. She remembered Hazel's cobalt blue earrings, miniatures of 
the Milk of Magnesia bottles catching the first rays of sun peeping 
above the treeline near Trout River Bridge. She turned the card 
over and read again the slanted cursive writing. 

The headlights of the red, white and silver Trailways bus 
flashed onto a painted sign set well back from the road: "Welcome 
to the Sunshine State." 



gelatin silver print 
Hope A. Lyon 


Things Are Looking Up 

Linda Oliverio 

Looking up, Willard saw blue sky blazing into the shop 
window through the crack between the roof of the garage and the 
roof of the house. The faded green house, sitting slightly to the 
left of the center line of Highway 441, was the first Florida 
residence for Willard, Virginia, and their four children still at 
home (there were eight children total). It was also free food and 
lodging for thousands of biting fleas and creeping cockroaches. 
August heat, cooking the parched yard enclosing three sides of the 
house, encouraged the sandspurs until they were fattened and 
flourishing in the barren sandy soil. 

Willard' s radiator shop, in the detached garage, sweltered with 
heat as he pulled a radiator up and out of a boiling vat of acid with 
a hook and pulley. Business was starting out slow, but Mama was 
planning to take in kids during the day and he would save every 
penny he could scrape up for a new house. Renting was only 
temporary, especially this place; he couldn't grow mud in this 
soil. Selling his house in Ohio had brought in almost enough for a 
down payment, but Mama would have to wait a few months 
longer for that house. He'd get it; it just wasn't going to be easy. 

The first month in Florida was proving that the Garden of Eden 
of his dreams was still inhabited by snakes. Willard awoke on his 
seventh day in St. Cloud to an empty carport. He guessed that his 
was the easiest car to steal in the whole town, saying, "Take me, 
I'm yours," sitting right on the highway with the keys left in the 
ignition by Martha. 

The theft, under investigation, had created a problem for the 
family — transportation. He had to dip into the down payment 
fund to replace the car, which didn't look like it would ever be 
recovered, with an old green pickup he had found cheap. Since 
the truck blended in with the color of the house and Martha 
couldn't drive a stick, maybe it had a chance. He looked at the 
clock on the counter top and reached over to pull the string on the 
fan and flip the lights off. Laying his heavy gloves in their 


place on the counter, he went into the house to get Mama. They 
were going to the hospital to get Mary. 

Transportation, the entire focus the week before, had become 
unimportant, except as a way to the hospital when his daughter 
Mary had almost died of a ruptured appendix. That Dr. Jewel was 
a snake; he had seen Mary the very morning her appendix 
ruptured and had sent her home to lie on the couch, sweating, 
moaning, and tossing with pain. Her fever blazing, her pain 
unbearable to witness, he and Mama had wrapped her in a blanket 
and rushed her to the hospital in Kissimmee. That bumpy fifteen 
miles in the old green truck, packed into the front seat, was the 
longest twenty-five minutes of his life. Mama's arms wrapped 
tightly around Mary couldn't keep her from jostling around, 
moaning in agony. Even the thought of losing Mary, dependable, 
hard-working Mary who sometimes got lost in the shuffle of all 
his kids, was enough to make his heart pound fiercely and his 
stomache ache. Upon arrival at Community Hospital, they 
checked her in immediately to emergency surgery, and now two 
weeks later, she was coming home. There went the rest of that 
down payment. He'd just have to start over, and pinch that brown 
penny smashed between his thumb and forefinger that much 
harder; his fingers were already whitening from the pressure. 

Evening began to fall on the matching house and truck; 
sandspurs were beginning to nod off to sleep. Willard, breathing 
in the hot shop air and letting it out slowly, thought of Mary at 
home now, resting peacefully in the front bedroom; she was going 
to be all right, and he had two lawn mowers to fix and a radiator 
core to replace tomorrow. He pulled the string on the fan and 
turned out the light. Looking up, Willard saw stars popping out in 
a darkening sky that glowed through the crack between the roof of 
the garage and the roof of the house. Walking carefully through 


the shadows of the shop to the door, he went outside and walked 
around the house to the front porch. 

A shrill scream cut through the thick night air. Mama, running 
down the steps, flying into Willard's arms, panted and spewed out 
barely distinguishable words. They wildly tumbled out of her 
mouth, "There's a sss snake by the front door of the house!" She 
finally got them all out. 

"Dear God," Willard prayed as he ran back into the garage, 
flipping on the lights and finding his axe. "Did I do the right thing 
by bringing my family to Florida?" Then, grabbing the long 
handled axe, he mounted the front steps to the porch in a single 
bound, and swinging wildly, chopped and smashed the harmless 
rat snake into pocket-sized pieces. Martha, Willie, and Linda, 
running outside at the sound of the ruckus, stood on the porch with 
Mama, watching the scene with fascinated horror. 

Mary, from the open window of the front bedroom, yelled out 
in a strong voice, "What's going on out there?" 

Everyone, turning away from the squashed horror to the sound 
of Mary's voice, looked up from the mess of mangled serpent and 
splintered wood on the floor and gazed toward the bedroom 
window ~ captivated by the voice of recovery. 



gelatin silver print 
Karen Ashley 


happiest girl 

these dreams of prickly sweet golden 

lush cool green and nightmare water 

wrap me up and smell of childhood 

and summer where 

armfuls of neptune daisies 

feed on my strawberry sun 

and tiny spider fairies 

twirl and dance on blue silver glass 

come play with me in my memories 
faraway picnics in sun breezy fields 
tumbled up dreams of neon winter hands 
and sepia-drenched days of sticky hot 

come swim with me in my innocence 
dance and shake all glitter wet flowers 
vanish deep in summer soft water 
swallowed up whole and silent 

Elizabeth Harvey 



Christmas, under the tree, a small red box, 
February, for me, a Valentine. 
Still, St. Patrick's Day brought me no shamrocks. 
You April Fool! That diamond ring was mine. 
"Can I love you forever?" "Yes, you May." 
Then by glorious June the sun was out. 
July was hot ... we had nothing to say. 
Then August's passion: all I did was shout. 
By September, things had cooled off a bit. 
I, the witch on Halloween, wore no ring. 
Thanksgiving it was he who had a fit. 
Winter caroling but we did not sing. 
By New Year's Eve, it was really over. 
I go on searching for my four-leaf clover. 

Susan Alexis Tucker 



colored pencil 
Shawn Kelshaw 

Jonah and The Fates 

Kimberly Kent 

Jonah had driven home from 
work happy and humming. He 
jumped from his car and he 
skipped to his doorway. He 
opened the screen door, got out 
his keys, then remembering it 
was Friday, put them back in 
his pocket and opened his 
unlocked front door. Melba 
Jane would be inside, he 
realized. Fridays were the day 
that his girlfriend came over 
and cooked for him. It was a 
tradition that had begun over 
two years ago, only a few 
weeks after they had started 

"Melba Jane!" Jonah 
shouted as he walked inside to 
the living room of the small 
suburban house. He had never 
really liked his house. It had 
been an impulsive purchase 
right after college to assert his 
status as an adult. The house 
was dark and had an 
irrepressible smell of mildew 
that no amount of cleaning 
could eliminate. "Melba! 
Where are you?" Jonah called. 

Clotho, Lachesis, and 
Atropos were weaving rather 
abysmal color into their 
tapestry. The thread was 
greyish in tone, with fecal 
brown tints that shone in the 
sun. Clotho, the youngest and 
most beautiful of the Fates, 
sighed deeply, wishing to work 
with brighter colors. She 
fondly remembered the 1980's, 
the fluorescent hues of hot pink 
and neon yellow that 
permeated the spindle on which 
she helped create destiny. She 
wondered why today could not 
be like that and looked 
piteously at Atropos. 

"What do you want now?" 
Atropos demanded with a 

"I want fun!" Clotho 
whined, throwing down the 
thread with which she had been 
working. "We haven't gotten 
to do anything exciting since 
'88 or '89. It's all been work- 
work- work since then! What 
happened to all the money, all 
the power, the sex, the drugs? I 
want it back!" 


From the right of the living 
room, out of the kitchen, came 
a small woman with straight, 
almost spiky, medium brown 
hair. She looked to be about 
thirty, but with her lack of 
height and weight she could 
easily have passed for twelve. 
She wore old jeans, a pink T- 
shirt, and an apron that said 
"Kiss the Cook" in raised black 
letters across the torso. Her 
face was red, and she wiped 
some flour from her nose 
before she replied. 

"What is it, honey?" she 

"Sit down," Jonah said 
leading her to his lazy boy 
recliner. She sat, and he sighed. 
He ran his right hand through 
his already thinning hair before 
he spoke. "I had a meeting 
with my boss, Mr. Gibb, today. 
You remember him? You met 
him at that company picnic last 
year?" Melba Jane nodded, and 
Jonah continued. "Well, today 
he called me into his office - 
offered me a drink and 
everything — and told me that 
the company is going to be 
hiring for an executive level 
position, and he's recom- 
mending me for the job!" 

"You're kidding!" Melba 

Atropos scolded her 
youngest colleague, "You 
know it cannot be like that 
again for a very long time. It's 
like Athens after the 
Peloponnesian Wars --no one 
is taking any chances. We'll 
plod through this, just like 
we've plodded through all the 
grey and brown periods of 
time, and someday we will see 
a flash of blue or green. Until 
then, stop whining!" 

Lachesis, who had been 
listening to the conversation, 
now looked up from her 
measuring rod and spoke. 
"Atropos," she said tentatively. 
"I agree with Clotho. Let's just 
do something - it can be 
something small - to raise our 
failing spirits." 

At this Atropos sighed. She 
hated when the two of them 
ganged up on her. They made 
her feel old, incapable of 
having fun, like she was their 
mother or some such nonsense. 

"All right," she said 
grudgingly. "Fine. Let's do 
what we always do when you 
two get in this sort of mood. 
Find me a human ~ a shmuck 
as the Hebrews say — who is 
dumb enough to believe that he 
has power over his own life, 
who thinks he can hazard 


Jane shouted, jumping up and 
hugging her boyfriend. "That's 
so great! That will mean more 
money so then we can..." Melba 
Jane bit her lip to keep herself 
from saying more. 

"Go ahead and say it!" Jonah 
declared, picking her up off the 
ground. "Then we can get 
married! We can buy a new 
house, a good one, have a 
honeymoon - everything. I 
almost can't believe this is 

"Well, wait a second," 
Melba replied. Her voice had 
lost much of its former 
enthusiasm. "Call me 
superstitious, but I don't want 
you to jump to any conclusions. 
You might not get the job." 

"Don't be silly," Jonah said. 
"Mr. Gibb said they'll hire me, 
so they'll hire me. In fact, I'm so 
sure of this, we're going to spend 
the weekend finding you the 
most beautiful engagement ring 
in the world." 

Melba sighed. Jonah, who 
had not put her down, tenderly 
carried her into the bedroom, and 
for the first time in over two 
years, Melba Jane did not finish 
preparing the dinner she had 
started for her boyfriend. 

even the most basic of assump- 
tions. And then, then we will 
crush him." 


The weekend went by 
quickly. Jonah, who normally 
hated shopping, found himself 
running to thirteen different 
jewelry stores looking for the 
perfect engagement ring. Melba 
said that she wanted something 
small but perfect -colorful and 
bright. Jonah commented that 
she had described herself to a 

Nevertheless, by Monday 
morning Jonah was happy to 
get back to work. When he 
finally signed the credit card 
slip at the thirteenth jewelry 
store, he realized just how 
much money this wedding 
would cost him. Melba's 
parents belonged to a 
midwestern religious cult that 
did not believe in ceremonies 
declaring love; they would not 
help pay for the wedding at all. 
Jonah needed to feel the 
security of his office building, 
the exhilaration of getting his 
memo from upstairs saying, 
"Here's your key to the 
executive washroom and 
expect to see an increase in 
your next paycheck." He 
needed to be reminded that he 
could pay for the woman he 

When Jonah sat down at his 
desk at nine o'clock Monday 
morning, there was a memo on 

Atropos stared at the 
tapestry for a great length of 
time. Although Clotho and 
Lachesis knew they would 
never be able to see what 
Atropos could, they felt the 
need to be with her, to use their 
presence as incentive. Atropos, 
however, took so very long in 
searching for just the right 
thread that she made even her 
colleagues uncomfortable. By 
the time Atropos exclaimed, 
"Aha!" Clotho was 
clandestinely crossing her eyes 
at Lachesis in a puerile 
expression of boredom. 
Lachesis was shaking her head 
and frowning in response. 

"Did you find one?" Clotho 
asked eagerly, straightening up. 
"Did you?" 

Atropos smiled and pointed 
to a miniscule thread in the 
tapestry. Not one of them 
remembered when it had been 
woven in, nor would any of 
them have noticed if a thief 
came along and stole it. It was, 
most sincerely, a thread of no 

"Look," said Atropos. "You 
see how this thread starts in a 
deep grey color then it stupidly 
has that band of white - almost 
impossible to see with the 


it, it was from Mr. Gibb, but it 
said simply that Jonah was to go 
to Mr. Gibb's office the second 
he got into work. 

Jonah rode the elevator 
upstairs thinking that the 
executives wanted to 
congratulate him in person. 
When he gave his name to the 
secretary in front of Mr.Gibb's 
office, she let him in 
immediately, adding to his belief 
that he was about to receive a 
more powerful position. 

"Hello, Mr. Gibb," Jonah said 
extending his hand for a hearty 
shake. "Did you have a good 

"Sit down, Jonah," Mr. Gibb 
answered. The look on his face 
was worrisome. The wrinkles 
around his late middle-aged eyes 
seemed to increase and he 
downed the shot of bourbon he 
had been holding in his left hand. 
"There's no easy way for me to 
say this, so I'll just tell you. You 
know that I wanted you for that 
job. I know what kind of effort 
you've given to this company, 
how many years you've worked 
here, but Jonah, the boys 
upstairs..." At this he paused 
and shook his head. "The boys 
upstairs have been getting flack 
from some of those liberal 
factions that have been running 
the country of late. You know 

naked eye, but there none- 

Clotho and Lachesis 
nodded. This was what they 
had been waiting for. 

"Clotho," asked Atropos, 
taking the tone of a 
schoolteacher. "Do you know 
what that white band means?" 

Clotho sighed. She had 
been working this job for eons, 
and it was not as if this thread 
was the first human whose life 
they had destroyed, but she 
knew better than to sound off at 
Atropos. "It means," she 
replied. "That this silly human 
dared to doubt our powers, 
thereby giving us the right to 
control his fate, even after his 
thread is supposed to have been 
finished, his fate already 

"Good," said Atropos. 
"Now, do you see how after the 
white band, the thread is no 
longer grey as it was before, 
but modifies into a plum and 
finally into a deep mauve?" 

The younger Fates nodded. 
They knew the meanings of the 
colors but also knew that 
Atropos would feel the need to 
lecture them again. 

"The grey symbolizes the 
lack of excitement, happiness, 


the type of people I'm talking 

Jonah realized that he was 
supposed to furnish some sort of 
response, but all he could 
manage was a gulp and a nod of 
his head. 

"Good, good," continued Mr. 
Gibb. "So you understand what 
we're up against. As I said, you 
know that I wanted you, I really 
fought for you, but we had to 
give the job to someone else. A 
woman. A black woman. Who 
uses a wheelchair. The boys tell 
me that we can use her as three 
different types of minorities. 
Hell, if she were gay, we'd never 
have to hire another one like her 
again. Ha ha." 

Jonah managed a small smile. 
He had not heard a word after 
Mr. Gibb said that they had 
given the job to someone else 
but realized that he was going to 
need to figure out something if 
he was going to be getting 
married. After all, there was the 
price of the ring, the dress, the 
new house... 

"Shit," Jonah said out loud. 
"My girlfriend ~ I just bought 
her an engagement ring. She's 
out today shopping for a 
wedding dress. We were 
counting on this promotion. 

and adventure in his early life. 
The plum and mauve signify 
that he becomes happy, feels 
his life is a success. What is 
most unfortunate for this man, 
however, is that coincidentally 
his life becomes better after he 
dares to challenge us. It is this 
detail in chronology that allows 
us, by Cosmic Rule, to destroy 
him how we see fit." 

All three Fates cackled. 

Atropos continued, "The 
only question is, how would we 
like to destroy his life?" 

Clotho spoke up, "Let's cut 
the thread right where the white 
band is ~ kill him 

"Is that really what you 
want to do? How mundane," 
said Atropos. "I think I have a 
much better idea." She 
affected a suspenseful aura 
around herself, waiting for her 
younger companions to beg her 

"What?" they asked. 
"What can we do?" 

Atropos allowed herself a 
long pause before answering. 
"Last week when I had dinner 
at the Muses', I brought back 
this small jar of black paint. I 
say we let the human live, but 
if he thought his life was bad as 


How am I going to pay for all 

"Jonah," said Mr. Gibb, 
sounding sincerely sympathetic. 
"I really don't know." 

"Well," Jonah said standing, 
getting ready to walk back down 
to his cubicle and return to work. 
"Well," he continued. "I'm sure 
you did everything you could, 
and I've just got to make the best 
of this." Jonah then held out his 
hand for Mr. Gibb to shake. 

"Wait," Mr. Gibb said. "I'm 
afraid I have more to tell you." 

Jonah walked back to the 
chair and sat down again. 
"Yes?" he asked. 

Mr. Gibb poured himself 
another shot of bourbon and 
chuckled nervously. "And I 
thought I had a hard time telling 
you that you didn't get the 
promotion," he mumbled. 

Jonah sat silently, staring at 
his boss. "Well, Jonah," said 
Mr. Gibb. "I was so sure that 
you would be getting this 
promotion that I hired somebody 
for what was supposed to be 
your old job. Of course, 
normally I would just call this 
guy up and tell him I'm sorry but 
the position is no longer 
available. The thing is though 
that this guy is a catch-just out 
of Harvard, top of his class, our 
company will be lucky to get 

a grey thread, let him see how 
he likes it as a black one." 

Using only the very tips of 
the long, pointy fingernails of 
her left hand, Atropos picked 
the thread out of the tapestry 
and carried it to the work table 
of the Fates. With her right 
hand she opened the small jar 
of black paint and dipped the 
thread, covering the deep 
mauve and the plum ~ 
covering everything up to the 
white band. 


such a kid. This boy will move 
quickly up the ladder. You 
have to understand, I must do 
what's best for the company. 
I'm sorry, Jonah." 


It was only nine thirty in the 
morning when Jonah got back 
from work and walked to the 
doorway of his dim, little house. 
After opening the screen door, 
he realized that his front door 
was unlocked. "Melba Jane 
must be inside," he thought. He 
felt relieved knowing his 
girlfriend was there, and would 
still be there, he was sure, even 
after he told her the horrible 
news. "The woman is a rock," 
Jonah said out loud. 

He opened the door and was 
immediately greeted by Melba. 
"Hello," she said happily, 
kissing him on the cheek and 
giving him a small hug. She 
did not seem to notice the 
impropriety of Jonah's hour of 
return, and Jonah saw the 
reason why. 

Sitting on his lazy boy 
recliner was a woman, short 
like Melba Jane, thin like Melba 
Jane, but completely bald and 
wearing a brown monk's robe. 
The woman was around fifty- 
five years of age and was 
undoubtedly Melba Jane's 

"Peace be to you, O brother 
of the universe," she said to 
Jonah, grasping his right hand 
in both of hers. 

The Fates watched the small 
thread hopefully. Although 
they had no instrument through 
which they could see the mortal 
world, they were all extremely 
sensitive to the small tremors 
and heaves that indicated how 
it was progressing. "Watch the 
tapestry!" Atropos demanded. 
"And feel the movement of the 

"Wait!" yelled Lachesis. "I 
swear I just saw another thread 
turn color. You see this little 
one here?" Lachesis pointed to 
a bit of string that had already 
been woven intricately into the 
Fates' work. Its beginning and 
ending were a crimson hue, but 
its middle was the greyish 
brown that overpowered that 
part of the tapestry. 

"It used to be grey until the 
end," continued Lachesis. "I'm 
sure it did. It began in that red 
color, then it turned grey, then 
it stayed grey." 

"Boring, boring grey," 
Clotho sighed. 

"Yes," hissed Atropos. 
"That's it exactly! Someone 
who has been involved in this 
man's life has now gone on to 
greater deeds. Whoever it is, 
this person will develop much 


"Urn, hello, Mrs. Leopold," 
Jonah answered formally. 
"It's, uh, nice to finally meet 

"Oh, please," she said. 
"Call me Kamelarine, for that 
is my ashram name. It means, 
'the universe is one like a 

"Well, sure Kamelarine." 
At this point Jonah was staring 
at Melba Jane, waiting for her 
to tell him what was going on. 
When she did not speak, he 
continued. "I didn't know you 
were coming. I thought you 
couldn't leave Buddha's Wide 
Territory in Indiana." 

"And miss my only 
daughter's wedding?" Kamel- 
arine scoffed. "The hare rama 
will let me back in, don't you 
worry about it! He actually has 
no choice. I stole one of his 
Cadillacs to get out here." 

"Well, that's great," Jonah 
said absently. "Melba, can I 
talk to you in the kitchen for a 

Jonah led Melba to the 
small, dirty kitchen and told her 
that he did not get his 

"Oh, honey," Melba Jane 
said. "I'm so sorry. But don't 
you worry - we're young, 
we're in love, we'll make it on 
your old salary. I'll return the 

happier than before we dyed 
the thread." 

"Look!" Clotho added. 
"The thread seems to be getting 
longer now. Will this person 
live longer now that the man's 
life has been changed?" 

"Yes," answered Atropos, 
trying to look peaceful and 
kind. "By destroying the life of 
one mortal, we have helped one 
more deserving." 

"And," added Clotho. "We 
have brought a more brilliant 
hue to our tapestry also." 

The Fates cooed at each 
other. They knew that they had 
done well. 


ring - we'll get one that's 
smaller and less perfect." 

Jonah went to his liquor 
cabinet and, like Mr. Gibb in his 
former company, poured 
himself a bourbon before 
speaking. "Melba, I knew 
you'd still be here for me, 
through the good and the bad. I 
want you to know how much 
that means to me, but there's 
more I need to tell you," he said 
after taking his drink. 

Melba stared up at him with 
an odd look of unwitting hope 
in her eyes. 

Jonah spoke very quickly 
and very quietly. "Mr. Gibb 
was so sure I would get the new 
job that he gave my old job to 
someone else. It seems that not 
only am I not an executive, I am 
also unemployed. I'm sorry, 
honey," Jonah continued. "But 
I think we're going to have to 
call off the wedding — at least 
for right now. There's just no 
way I can get married when I 
don't know what's happening in 
the rest of my life. I still love 
you, I still want to be with you, 

"But what?" Melba' s face 
had changed. She could no 
longer pass for a pre-pubescent 
girl. All thirty of her well-lived 
years came rushing to her face, 


and Jonah backed away from 
the rage he saw coming. "My 
mother is here! Do you know I 
haven't seen her since I left the 
ashram when I was nineteen? 
She came all the way out here to 
see us get married, and you're 
fired? You're not going to 
marry me? You asshole! You 
son of a bitch!" 

Melba Jane kneed Jonah 
strategically and left him 
standing there hunched over and 
moaning. She then grabbed her 
mother and stormed out of her 
ex-fiance's house. 


Jonah had been sitting in his 
living room, in his lazy boy 
recliner, drinking from his bottle 
of bourbon for about two hours 
when the doorbell rang. 

He got up to answer the 
door, and fell backwards onto 
his derriere when he saw what 
was there. 

"Peace be to you, O brother 
of the universe," said his guest. 
She was short and thin and 
could, once again, have passed 
for twelve. She was also bald 
and wearing a robe much like 
the one Jonah had seen her 
mother wearing earlier in the 
day. She told Jonah that she 
would not walk into his 
heretical house and asked him if 
he would stand outside and 
speak to her for a moment. 

"Sure, Melba," Jonah said 
agreeably, offering her a drink. 

"I've decided to return to 
the ashram," Melba explained, 
shaking her head at the bottle. 
"I don't know why I thought I 
could be happy marrying an 
infidel. I have decided to 
become one with the son of the 
hare rama of Buddha's Wide 
Territory in Indiana. Don't ever 
try to contact me or you will 
incur the wrath of my holy 
significant other." And so 
saying, Melba Jane turned 

Atropos spoke to Clotho in a 
manner that, while slightly 
patronizing, also allowed for a 
hint of genuine amusement. 
"Well," she asked the youngest 
Fate. "Did you enjoy yourself? 
Was this enough... fun... for 

"Yes," Clotho answered, 
very self-satisfied. 

"Good," replied Atropos. 
"Now maybe we can get back 
to work." 

Clotho nodded and 
immediately went back to her 
spindle. She might not have 
been the most stalwart Fate in 
the world, but she was a good, 
strong worker. 

Atropos smiled at her 
youngest colleague, and feeling 
that once again everything was 
in its place, she too started back 
at the eternal job on hand. 

Only Lachesis remained 
idle. Something did not feel 
quite right to her. 

"Wait!" she called. Don't 
we have to put the thread back 
in the tapestry?" 

Clotho and Atropos put 
down their tools. "I forgot," 
mumbled the oldest Fate. 
"Who cares?" muttered the 

"Well," Lachesis responded. 
"If you two want to work, I'll 


sharply around, walked back to 
her car, and drove away. 

"Well," thought Jonah. "I 
don't know what to think about 
any of this." He started to lurch 
drunkenly towards his house 
and was once again appalled at 
its ugliness, how light seemed to 
bend around it, avoiding his 
entire dwelling place. He 
stopped moving and took 
another swig of bourbon. 

"You know," said Jonah, 
now talking to himself out loud. 
"I should pass out. Right on my 
front lawn. It's the only place 
on my property that gets any 
sun. Always gets the sun right 
here, always green and healthy 
where I never get to sit in my 
lazy boy. House is built in the 
wrong spot. But I think I wanna 
sit down anyway." 

Jonah looked down and was 
reminded that he was not the 
only living creature in his 
neighborhood who appreciated 
his front lawn. "Damn dog!" he 
shouted turning toward the 
house on the left of his. 
"Overfed, overshitting Saint 

Jonah drank more. 

"Nothing goes right," he 
continued. "I hate this house! I 
hate my life. I think...! think I'd 

put the thread back in. Just tell 
me where it is." 

"Isn't it on the work table?" 
Atropos asked, still 
concentrating on her cutting. 

"I don't see it," Lachesis 
replied slowly, looking all over 
the area. "I see the jar of paint 
and last Sunday's comics, but I 
don't see the thread." 

"Then it's probably on the 
floor," answered Clotho 

Lachesis got on her knees 
and searched the floor around 
the table. "I still don't see it," 
she declared. 

Clotho sighed heavily, 
threw down the section of the 
tapestry on which she was now 
stitching, and stomped over to 
the work table. "If you want 
something done right..." she 
mumbled to herself. 

Now both Clotho and 
Lachesis were wandering 
around the floor on their hands 
and knees. After a few minutes 
Lachesis sat up. "Clotho," she 
said. "I can't find it. I don't 
think it's here." 

Clotho sighed, blowing a 
strand of hair away from her 
face. "Uh oh," she replied. 

"Urn, Atropos," she then 
called. "Could we, uh, talk to 
you for a second. It seems we 


like to burn this whole place to 
the ground. Maybe the dog will 
come over too. I think that it's 
time to die." 

Jonah entered his house and 
stood in the middle of his living 
room. He dropped the bottle of 
bourbon on the floor and 
walked into the kitchen. "All 
these people promising things 
and not coming through." 
Jonah's voice had lowered and 
slowed to a deep slur. 'Time 
for me to do something that 
nobody can stop. Time to..." 

Jonah looked bemusedly 
around his kitchen. "Time to..." 
he repeated. His eyes fixed on 
his stove, an old-fashioned gas 
range with an old-fashioned gas 
oven. It had been white when it 
was made - sometime in the 
1950's. Now it seemed a dull 
grey color. There was a pull- 
down-opening at the very 
bottom, in which the pilot light 
sat. "Time to blow out the 
goddamn pilot light and set the 
place on fire. Get rid of the 
house, end my miserable life." 

Jonah felt better now that he 
had decided on a plan of action. 

He tried to drop himself 
carefully to the floor but instead 
fell with an inebriated thud. 
"Shit," he said, deciding that he 
had bruised his right arm. 

have a teensy-weensy 

Atropos was never a happy 
Fate to interrupt while she was 
working. More than once in 
the history of time had Clotho 
and Lachesis dealt with a 
serious emergency alone rather 
than bother their oldest 
colleague. It wasn't so much 
the fact that she became 
verbally nasty (which she did), 
but that she was brandishing 
those rather sharp scissors with 
which she cut the humans' 
threads, and Clotho still had a 
scar on her right cheek from 
bothering Atropos about 
something the oldest Fate had 
deemed trifling. 

"What!" shrieked Atropos 
in response to the summons. 
Then, "Damn. Cut that one too 
soon because you cretins were 
bothering me. And humans 
always get so irritated when 
they die before their times!" 

Atropos looked up from her 
work, wielded her closed 
scissors like a knife. "What do 
you want?" 

Clotho and Lachesis 
quickly stood up and, in 
unison, backed one step away 
from Atropos. "Uh," said 
Clotho. "You tell her. She 
likes you better." 


'Try to choose a painless way to 
die and look what happens!" 

"Just got to blow the pilot 
light out," Jonah mumbled. 

"There," he said squinting, 
trying to make sure the light 
was really extinguished. 

"Now I just got to get up and 
go find some matches. I must 
have some matches somewhere 
in this house." Jonah stood 
painfully, his right arm 
throbbing even through his 
drunken haze. "Just one match 
and the house will blow." 

Jonah searched through his 
kitchen cabinets and drawers. 
"I'm sure I got matches 
somewhere," he kept 

Finally, underneath his 
silverware, he noticed a 
matchbook, opened it, and was 
entirely surprised to find that it 
still possessed matches. "Rah!" 
Jonah said. "Nothing can stop 
me now. I want to die. I'm 
going to die." 

Jonah then mumbled a quick 
prayer to himself, stooped down 
to the pilot light again, lit a 
match, and closed his eyes. 

Lachesis giggled nervously. 
"It, uh," she said. "Seems that 
we've lost the thread we were 
playing with. You remember? 
The one we painted black." 

"You've lost it?" Atropos 
asked incredulously. "You've 
lost a human being? How 
could you lose a human 
being?" Atropos walked one 
step closer to her younger 
friends, and they, in response, 
took another step back. 

"You must not have looked 
hard enough," insisted Atropos. 

"We looked everywhere," 
Clotho whined. Lachesis 

Atropos squinted her eyes, 
employing the same 
supernatural vision that had 
enabled her to see the thread 
when it was in the tapestry. 
"Oh my gods," she said after 
scanning the room numerous 
times. "It's not in here!" 

Clotho and Lachesis shook 
their heads. 

"Well, where is it?" 
Atropos asked as if she really 
expected an explanation. 

"We don't know," Clotho 
whimpered in return. "It's just 

"It was bound to happen 
sometime," Lachesis tried 
warily. "I mean, you can't 


work through all eternity 
without a mishap of some sort, 
right? And if the thread is 
really gone there's nothing we 
can do anyway, is there?" 

Atropos stared at her col- 
leagues for a while before 
answering. "You're absolute 
morons," she finally said. 
Then she walked over to 
Clotho and shoved her in the 
shoulder. "You were the one 
who insisted on having fun. 
You were the one who was 
bored. Now you can't find the 

"But, Atropos," Lachesis 
said, cutting her off. She then 
spoke in her most rational 
voice. "Let's not worry about 
placing blame. Let's get to the 
serious questions. What's 
going to happen to the human? 
How is he going to fit in the 
grand scheme of things if he 
doesn't exist in the tapestry? 
Where is he? And, most 
importantly, are we going to 
get in trouble for this?" 

"I don't think we can get in 
trouble," Clotho said rubbing 
her now painful shoulder. "We 
are the Fates. I mean, exactly 
who is going to do exactly 
what to us?" 

As Clotho spoke, Atropos 
remained silent but her eyes got 


wider and wider. "I just 
thought of something!" she 
finally screamed. "If we don't 
have the thread... if we can't 
control the human... he might 
have... he might have... Free 

"Argh!" Atroposthen 

"Argh!" shouted the other 
two Fates. 

The house exploded in a grandiose fashion that Jonah never 
would have believed possible. Besides the million little pieces of 
brick, wood, and insulation that covered the sky for a second like 
fireworks on the Fourth of July, Jonah's lazy boy flew upwards 
then landed next door on the neighbor's Saint Bernard. Jonah 
himself, however, was around to see none of this for he had 
become nothing more than a few flecks and stains of carnage 
displaced chaotically around his lawn. 


Safe Repairs 

gelatin silver print 
Jennifer Colson 


vermin view 

energizing aromas enter my crevice 
as i conjure 

lamb, onion, carrot, tomato, potato 
and garlic soupe dujour 

fire makes the ring red and the pot sweat 
as my mammoth defends the grate 
faithfully until his mate drives 
up in a wheeled crate 

my mammoth presses his mate's antennae 
into submission 

and sets the discs and fiber leaves 
about in ritual tradition 

and wields a rigid hand to strew the discs 
with libations 

both shut their eyes and settle their hands 
mouthing vibrations 

i scurry into the crumbvault to probe 
between sip and sample 
while scouting the pristine forest 
to inventory my temple 

soon i deduce in the shadowy light they are 
secreted in their sleep lakes 
and will not saunter about on their back legs 
before the fireball wakes 

too my mammoth is snorting a kazoo 
and his mate.. .is silent 

Geraldine Provence 




* iillllll 

Swans Dancing 

gelatin silver print 
Stephen Monroe 


Age of Wonder 

gelatin silver print 
Rosemary Bowlin 



gelatin silver print 
Wanda Martin 


After Fall 

Fall leaves me wanting what we once were 
And the tastes of the memories we made linger 
In my mouth like Southern Comfort 

When I remember 

The sweet brown smell of hidden bourbon 
At football games where the air made 
Our faces look embarrassed, 
The oyster roasts on Sunday afternoons, 
And the sugary, black Halloween candy 
That stuck to our teeth like fillings, 
Or that succulent turkey smoked for Thanksgiving, 
Then the saltiness of your skin on autumn evenings- 
After all, it wasn't a season of sorrow as we watched 
Leaves fall only to be raked into a pile. 

Susan Alexis Tucker 



collage with acrylic 
Theresa Anderson 

The Story of 
Marguerite's Mommy 

Kimberly Kent 

"Mommy," said the little girl tentatively, sneaking a finger of 
the cookie dough her mother was making. "How did you and 
Daddy meet?" She sat on a stool in a large, sun-lit kitchen, 
watching her mother add chocolate chips to an already crowded 
mixing bowl. She smiled sweetly, sure that her mother had not 
caught her. 

"Well, Marguerite," answered the woman, "that's a wonderful 
story. Would you like to hear it?" 

"Yes, mommy," answered the little girl bobbing her wavy 
blonde head up and down. 

Her mother pushed the bowl of dough away slightly and leaned 
back onto a counter behind her. She crossed her arms slowly and 
turned her eyes toward the ceiling as if trying to recall a distant 

"Well, I had just moved to the United States from Russia -- 
Petersburg, actually, although we called it Leningrad at the time," 
she began. "We Jews, you know, were very oppressed in Eastern 
Europe -" 

"Marguerite!" shouted a male voice from the living room. The 
voice travelled over the sound of the television set the man was 
watching, through the open doorway between the two rooms, and 
descended into the kitchen with a low grumble. 

"Yes, Daddy?" the little girl replied, turning her head towards 
the voice. 

"Is your mother telling you she's a Jew from Russia?" 

"Yes, Daddy. Mommy always says that Jews are better than 
Gentiles and that Jews from Eastern Europe are the best of them 

The father, undaunted by his daughter's explanation, continued. 
"She's not even Jewish. She's a shiksa. From Cincinnati. I'm the 
Jew. Hasidic, you know. That's where you got your black hair 
and black eyes." 

"Yes, Daddy. Tell your story, Mommy." 


"Well, if your father would not so rudely interrupt, it would be 
easier. As I was saying, I was in a singles' bar in Richmond, 
Virginia, one night. I do believe the place was called Mingler's. It 
was dark brown and all the seats were covered in that horrible 
vinyl stuff that tries to pretend it's leather. There were a few neon 
signs depicting brand names of various beers, and a couple of 
people were doing shooters on the other side of the bar where I 
was sitting. The whole place smelled of cheap perfume bought at 
Walmart. I was watching a small television in the corner - 
professional ice-skating was on, and you know how I love 
professional ice-skating. 

"Unexpectedly, the door to the bar opened letting in a bright 
sheath of mid-afternoon yellow sunlight that framed the silhouette 
of the male stranger about whom this story revolves. His hair was 
that blue-black color that seems to be found only on East Asians 
and Black Irish. His eyes, however, were brown and wide, 
defying the possibility that he was either of those ethnicities. He 
must have been at least six feet tall, and if I remember correctly, 
he was wearing a black silk Perry Ellis shirt--" 

"That was Daddy?" the girl asked in wonder. Her mother had 
handed her a spoon and a cookie sheet, and she was now keeping 
her hands busy by scooping up balls of dough and depositing the 
majority of them on the sheet. 

"Of course not, dear," replied the mother, taking one of the full 
sheets and placing it in the oven. "Among other incongruities, 
your father would never wear designer clothes." 

"Marguerite!" returned the voice from the living room. The 
television was now off and the man did not have to speak quite as 

"Yes, Daddy?" 

"Is your mother telling you I would never wear designer 

"Yes, Daddy. Mommy always says you have no taste in 
clothing. She says you buy your outfits where most people buy 
power tools." 

"She's lying. Everything I own is Giorgio Armani or Joe 

"Sure, Daddy. Go on, Mommy." 


"Anyway, at this point in my life I was very beautiful. My 
chestnut hair flowed in curly waves down my back, my green eyes 
shone, my breasts were large and firm. I wore a dark blue dress 
with a deep V-neck collar that showed just the slightest amount of 
cleavage and one of those side leg slits showing an equal amount 
of thigh. Not slutty, just tempting. Believe me, darling, I was a 
catch for any man who might walk in. And don't think I didn't 
know it either! I played those places like pianos! I would sit on 
the bar stools, smoke a cigarette, and nonchalantly watch TV, but I 
always knew what was going on. I knew the second a desirable 
man walked in the room, and then I would make my move." 

"But this man, the one with the black hair and blue eyes, no 
matter what I looked like that night there was no way I could equal 
his beauty. And it was for this reason alone that I pulled the best 
trick out of my hat and made my move. I put out my cigarette, 
made sure I was showing a fair amount of leg, and walked up to 
the bar stool where he had just sat down. I figured I would buy 
him a drink. That usually throws men for a loop, you know. If 
you act the aggressor. It's a good way to disarm them so you can 
grab them before anyone else does. Remember that one for when 
you get older." 

Marguerite nodded her head solemnly in response to her 
mother's advice. 

"He was drinking beer - Budweiser, I remember. Which goes 
to prove that just because someone is pretty, doesn't mean he has 
taste. But I didn't even ask what it was he was drinking. I just 
shot a look at the bartender and flicked my wrist like this. He 
brought that beer right over. The man was pretty impressed that a 
woman would pay for his drink. 'What do you do to have all this 
money to throw around?' he asked in this low voice. T'm a spy,' I 
replied. 'From Paraguay.' Which I was at the time." 

"Marguerite," came the call from the living room. The crisp 
sound of a newspaper's turning pages rattled under the man's 
grumbling voice. 

"Yes, Daddy?" The cookie dough had all been eaten or made 
into balls and put in the oven. Marguerite had been given a glass 
of milk, and as she responded to her father's beckoning, she wiped 
a white mustache away from her upper lip. 


"Is your mother telling you that she was a spy from Paraguay?" 

"Yes, Daddy. She always says that there is nothing more 
exciting than Latin American people with sub-automatic 

"She's lying. I was the spy. From Brazil. I was with the 
Portuguese Language American Traitors and Offenders, a crack 
team of philosophers and computer terrorists. I had the guns." 

"Yes, Daddy. What were you saying, Mommy?" 

"Well, I continued telling this man my story. T'm a spy from 
Paraguay,' I said. 'Here to infiltrate Atlanta and all points South.' 
Of course, I said this all in Spanish which I spoke fluently at the 
time, being from South America and all. Unfortunately, since I've 
become a fugitive living in suburban Maryland, I've been forced 
to forget my mother tongue. But this man was impressed. I knew 
it wasn't every day that he was picked up by a beautiful foreign 

"So then, Marguerite, do you know what this amazing man that 
I had just met said to me? He said, 'That's very interesting, Miss, 
but I think Atlanta is in Georgia, and this is Baton Rouge, 
Louisiana.' I tell you, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever 
heard. Honesty is a difficult thing to find in any person, much less 
a man, and I knew then that it was the one trait I would insist upon 
for any man with whom I would fall in love. 

"Because he had told me the geographic truth in a singles' bar 
in Savannah, Georgia, I thought he might be willing to help me in 
my noble mission. I was just about to recruit his services as a spy 
— and as a man - when the strangest looking gentleman you could 
imagine came up to us. 

"Now, as a spy it was part of my training to notice everyone in 
a room, but I had not noticed this man." 

"Marguerite!" shouted the familiar voice from the living room, 
and Marguerite leaned back on her stool, raising the front two legs 
off the floor, just enough so that she could see the very tip of her 
father's head and the back of the recliner in which he was sitting. 

"Yes, Daddy?" Marguerite could no longer tell what her father 
was doing in the living room, and disappointed, carefully leaned 
forward again, making sure her mother did not notice her 


somewhat dangerous and definitely reproachable behavior with 
the stool. 

"Is your mother telling you that there was an occasion when 
she actually did not notice a man walk into a room?" 

"Yes, Daddy. But she always says that it's a woman's job to 
notice all possible suitors in enclosed places. They're easier to 
catch that way." 

"Well, she's right about that. But she's never missed a one. 
Your mother has a sixth sense about testosterone." 

"Yes, Daddy. Keep talking, Mommy." 

"Well, this man I did not notice. He was skinny and tall, 
balding but with slicked back red hair and squinty green eyes, a 
combination that, once it grabs your attention, makes you wonder 
how you could ever have missed it. He wore thick glasses with 
black rims and a grey wool suit that was much too large for his 
slight frame. 

"'Excuse me, sir,' he said to the man to whom I was speaking, 
'are you hitting on my wife? Did you know that this is a married 
woman?' The stranger was obviously upset, very angry, very sad 
- almost on the verge of tears. 'Penelope!' he said to me, taking a 
handkerchief from his breast pocket, 'how could you do this? How 
could you leave me at home with Marx and Engels then run off to 
a singles' bar?' 'Marx and Engels?' asked my good looking 
friend. I, of course, shrugged. I had no idea of whom this stranger 
was speaking. 'They're our cats! ' he wailed, putting his head on 
my friend's shoulder and crying hysterically. 

"Now, Marguerite, I had never seen this man before in my life, 
not that I was opposed to seeing him at that moment. Nevertheless, 
I did not know him nor did I know his house nor did I know his 
cats. I thought he had me confused with some other beautiful 
woman with black hair and blue eyes. One never knows when a 
husband will confuse a beautiful stranger for his wife, and I tried 
to tell him that my name was Cassandra not Penelope and that I 
was allergic to cats, but he just kept insisting! 'Don't do this,' he 
kept saying. T love you, please come home! I'll never ask you to 
clean the toilet again.'" 

"Marguerite!" Once again the voice rumbled from the living 


"Yes, Daddy?" 

"Is your mother telling you her name is Cassandra?" 

"Yes, Daddy. Today that's what she's telling me." Marguerite 
turned to look at her mother who was trying to close the oven door 
with her foot while carrying two sheets of hot cookies. 

"It's not. It's Penelope--" 

"Oh," said the little girl, cutting off her father. She jumped 
excitedly off the stool and exclaimed, "That was Daddy! The man 
who said you have cats!" She tugged on her mother's shirt and 
looked up at her for a sign of agreement. 

"Yes," said her mother with the peaceful smile of a madonna. 
"The poor beautiful man to whom I had been speaking was utterly 
disgusted by my abandonment of my husband and my pets. He 
called me a crazy woman and told your father that he should look 
for someone better, someone who would feed the cats and clean 
the toilet. Then he grabbed his hat and left the bar. So you see, 
Marguerite, your father ran off the best potential suitor of my life 
that fateful night at Singles in Charleston, South Carolina. And 
because there were no other decent men in the bar, I was forced to 
talk to him - this weirdo who made up stories about me and my 
life. This man who had no ethical qualms about lying in order to 
get a girl. So, as it stands, I'm sure you can understand how that 
night we fell in love." 

The man got up from his recliner in the living room and walked 
sluggishly into the kitchen. He leaned against a counter, and after 
sharing a secretive, droll smile with his wife, spoke to his 

"Marguerite," he said one final time. 
"Yes, Daddy?" asked the little girl. She sat back on the stool 
with her elbows on the counter and her chin cupped in her hands. 
"Is your mother telling you she and I met at a singles' bar?" 
"Yes, Daddy. You know you did." 

"It's not true. We met at a picnic. At a church. On a Sunday. 
In Des Moines." 


Not Even a Valentine 

I will love you for as long 
As the kingfisher keeps his point of view 
Perched on the miles of confessional wires 
Connecting me to you 

And I will love you for the time 
It takes the shells you gather from the sea 
To send you running from your sandy rooms 
Returning you to me 

Or I will love you until trails 
Of winter suns no longer lead me home 
To sound such promises: I'm only breath, 
My heart inside a poem. 

David Starnes 


A Light in the Dark 

gelatin silver print 
Jennifer Heidmann 




BLACKberries!?, but why? 

When indeed they are- 

actually are definitely- 

quite a decided study 

in purpleness. 

Deep, Deep, Purple, 

with tiny silver reflections 

of a hundred suns 

on miniature satin globes. 

Yes, purple surely. 

Certainly more purple than 

most grapes can claim. 

Purpler and less fickle 

than purple evening skies, 

which are apt to leak 

pinks and lavender and such. 

Pretty, but not purple. 

Eggplants do purple rather nicely 

but without much excitement. 

It is blackberries that 

do purple so well. 


Brenda Talley 



Like a town crier in mid-afternoon 

an unseen neighbor calls out for her child. 

She sings the first fond syllable (the word is day) 

and hangs it in the humid air. 

Held by hearing it seems to sway 

and, said, evaporates. 

The second half is thin ( the letter v). 

It trails away, falls back into the green and gracious yard, 

then silence for a heartbeat, two beats, three, 

until the mother reaches up again. 

The name is heightened by a question mark, 

as measured as the angle of a roof. 

It might have fastened to her mouth. 

A smaller voice, a pebble tossed at cobblestones, 
a splinter in the front porch step, 
lifts from the August heat 
more in a register than in reply. 

His is the name imposed upon my Christian name 

(the formal meant beloved 

before I heard it spoken, heard it hold) 

and shed much later than its innocence. 

I almost answer for that child 

as if returning home by sound. 

David Starnes 



gelatin silver print 
Sue Bishop-Stapleton 


Burnt Hands in 

gelatin silver print 
Donna Callahan 



Moonlight Series No. 2 

Theresa Anderson 

Volume XII 
Armstrong State College 



David Starnes 

associate editors 

Les Mosley 

Tiffanie Rogers 

Patricia Saunders 

art editors 

Ramona M. Harmon 
Shawn Kelshaw 

faculty advisors 

Dr. Martha Marinara 
Dr. James M. Smith, Jr. 

Calliope is published annually in the spring by and for 
the students of Armstrong State College. Editors give student 
work first priority, but accept submissions by faculty and staff. 
Consideration is given to work done in all disciplines on 

Submissions are accepted through winter quarter and 
should be placed in Calliope collection boxes, or mailed to 
Calliope, Victor Annex #5, Armstrong State College, 1 1935 
Abercorn Street, Savannah, Georgia 31419-1997. 

The faculty advisors select the Lillian Spencer Award 
winners for Best Poem and Best Prose piece. 

Rachael Green of the Fine Arts Department chose the 
Lillian Spencer Award winner for Best Artwork. 

Special Thanks: Linda Jensen, Rachael Green, Joann 
Windeler, Jackie Strickland, Dr. Carol Andrews, Dr. Richard 
Nordquist, Student Activities, and Student Government Assoc. 

Cover Design: Shawn Kelshaw 



Natural Events Rachel McReynolds Brown 20 

That Dark Winter Forrest Jackson 21 

To Mary Stewart Bobby Myers 35 
Earth Shaking Vibrations 

Rachel McReynolds Brown 5 1 

Spring Fever Michael Walker 52 

Seasons William B. Deaver, Jr. 53 

Age to Age Jean O. Hattle 66 

November 1993 Forrest Jackson 67 

December 22 Shawna Silverman 68 
Blue Wicker Basket Rachel McReynolds Brown 78 

*Birds of the Weather Jean O. Hattle 90 


Endymion Bound Mary E. O'Sako 6 

Safety in Numbers Susan Parker 23 

"Wine, Mistress?" Patricia Saunders 39 

Five to Life Jamie Burchett 44 

Ballerinas Leigh Calhoun 54 

Pepsi-Cola Hits the Spot Thomas Manchester 70 

*Marilyn Mary E. O'Sako 81 


Moonlight Series No. 2 Theresa Anderson 1 

Kristen Sherri Ralph 5 

Moonlight Series No. 3 Theresa Anderson 19 

Metaphysical Jetty Keith Langston 34 

Everyday Abstraction Cindy Intorre 36 

Peeping Tom's Dream Cindy Intorre 37 

In Working Order Doug Spinks 38 

The Calculating Mistress Jennifer Cohen 62 

* Haunted Building Robert Trimm 63 

Isle of Hope Gabriele Hauck 64 

You Took a Part of Me Keith Langston 65 

Walking Shawn Kelshaw 69 

i piccioni Jennifer Cohen 77 

Spots and Stripes . . . Forever? Setona Page 79 

Simplicity Teresa Larsen 80 

Moonlight Series No. 1 Theresa Anderson 91 

Free to Be Ellen Loe Frazier 92 

color plates 

The Dance Stacy McClain 

Rain Forest Ramona Michelle Singleton 

Mark Christ Les Mosley 

Variations on Raku and Stoneware Phil Kandel 

Indicates Lillian Spencer Award 


Sherri Ralph 

Endymion Bound 

Mary E. O' Sako 

Selene and Timothy came to a stop beside an open 
field, veiled in moonlight. They had been slowly driving the 
back roads of their hometown when Selene had spotted this 
place. She touched the hollow at the base of her throat as she 
watched Timothy switch off the engine, allowing the warmth 
of a pleasant apprehension to spread through her. This was 
their first time, their first time alone together, really alone. 

The field was crowded with Queen Anne's lace and 
black-eyed Susans, hushed and vigilant. Tim disengaged the 
convertible's flimsy top, throwing it back to reveal night birds 
on the wing. They called out their alarm as they rose in the 
silvery sky. 

Now they know, Selene thought dreamily. She undid 
her seat belt and slid towards him. Breathless, she felt breath- 
less. She could see her own limbs move languidly in the 
glowing darkness. Tim reached out for her, encircling her 
shoulders and pulling her closer, closing the velvety space 
between them. She suddenly fancied them great lovers of yore, 
seated just so in his gilded chariot, ecstasy and immortality 
before them. The great white eye of the full moon stared from 
just over his shoulder, turning the strong, clean lines of his face 
to marble. 

Endymion? Selene breathed silently, trembling and 
closing her eyes. She followed the trail his lips glazed, first 
over her cheeks, then her mouth, soft and questioning. Her 
pulse quickened, echoing in her ear like the warning tick of a 
clock. Is-he-the-one? It tolled repeatedly. She allowed her 
mind to catch in its mesmerizing beat, flowing back eons ago, 
to the day they'd met. 

She drifted, then came to a stop on a particularly sweet 
afternoon, a mere month ago. It was July. She was reading in 
the old gazebo that marked the edge of her property. Situated 
on a small crest above the edge of town and the fields and 
woods beyond, it was her secret place, her sanctuary. She had 

discovered it as a child of eight, when she believed it to be 
enchanted. A place where after hours of play she was certain 
she could hear her name in the breezes that came to cool and 
comfort her there. A place she came to believe protected her 
from the pains of the ordinary world. 

Now at twenty-one, she felt it as an old friend, a friend 
she relied on often since the untimely death of her parents two 
summers before. Orphans themselves, they had left all to her, 
their only child. Their "strange, unearthly child," her mother 
would often comment with a laugh as she listened to Selene's 
daily tales of the magic she'd experienced about the place. 

After their funeral, she had dropped out of college 
immediately, all too grateful to return to this world. Never one 
for chatty friends or crowds, she welcomed the solitude and the 
quiet dignity this setting provided while she grieved, and 
waited. It was a cocoon from which she would emerge only 
when the right someone, or something, beckoned. 

That particular July afternoon she had chosen to indulge 
in her passion for Greek and Roman mythology. It was a 
passion she craved often. Those magnificent stories of ethereal 
beings seemed to ease the ache of a lifelong void deep within 
herself. Somewhere. On that day she had sat beneath the rose- 
covered arches of her gazebo, away from the close rooms of 
the house, deeply engrossed in the legend of Diana, goddess of 
the moon, and her sleeping lover Endymion — her favorite. 

A single triumphant shout had brought her reluctantly 
back to the present. Sighing deeply she stood to see a young 
man out in the field below. He had just thrown a javelin and 
was peering towards the spot it had impaled, several feet from 
where he stood. 

She stretched and smoothed the hem of her shorts, then 
gathered up her book for the short walk back up to the house. 
She glanced once more at the lone intruder and saw that he had 
raised a hand to shield his eyes from the sun and had spotted 
her there. Selene froze instantly, her hand flying to her throat. 
The young man below resembled a Grecian statue in that 

moment, his arms bronzed perfection against the sleeveless 
white jersey he wore. 

"Endymion, " she whispered, hugging the book tightly. 
The dark young man had waved then. Standing entranced, she 
watched him stride powerfully towards her. He drew so close 
she could see the tiny beads of sweat on his skin and how they 
twinkled like diamonds in the late afternoon sunlight. 

"Hi," he called out, smiling. "Is this your property?" 

Selene stared helplessly, the surrounding quiet broken 
only by the distant barking of a dog. 

"Hello, am I interrupting a study session or something, 
Mrs. . . . Miss?" 

"Yes, uh, Selene, my name is Selene . . . with a Miss," 
she smiled cautiously back at him. "And where you stand now 
is my property, where you just threw your javelin is not." 

"Yeah? Great! Well, Miss Selene, I am sorry for tres- 
passing, and I am very sorry if I interrupted a study session. . . 
my javelin and I will soon get lost." He gave her a deep bow 
and backed up a step. 

"Wait, it's okay, this ..." she held up her book, "this is 
strictly pleasure, so don't leave on my account, really, I mean 
there is no problem." She could feel a hard blush rising in the 
face of his pleasant gaze. Why? 

"Are you sure?" 

"Yes, of course. It's just that I don't get many backdoor 
visitors, Mr. . . . ?" 

"Timothy, Tim Braun," he answered cheerfully, "and 
this," he swiped an arm towards the field, "is a pipe dream. 
You just caught me bangin' on it red-handedly Miss Selene." 
He paused and laughed then, a rich melody that calmed her 
wary senses. Selene smiled with him. 

"Watcha readin' ?" He stooped as if to read the hidden 

"Greek mythology," Selene answered timidly, raising 
her chin. 

"Greek mythology, hmmm . . ." He raised his eye- 
brows in gentle mockery. "Interesting." He smiled again and 

winked. His stamp of approval had been like the warmth of 
that balmy afternoon, and Selene had felt the newborn stirrings 
of something alien inside her. She had smiled back. 

Is he the one? Selene wondered again on this 
midsummer's eve, one month later. She reveled now in his 
embrace, keenly aware of his breathing, his movements. He 
unbuttoned her blouse, and drew a gasp from her as he touched 
her breast. His touch was so foreign and yet so fragile. You 
strange, unearthly child, her mother's long-buried words 
flooded her mind. Selene pulled at his hair and kissed him 

A small puff of wind grew suddenly and traced its way 
across her forehead, carrying a small single sound on its 

"Diana. " 

Selene's eyes flew open. She tensed and listened with 
every pore. A dog howled plaintively in the distance. She 
could see the moonswept scape beyond Tim's busy shoulder; 
it revealed no sudden threat. She sank back slowly, as if in a 
dream, her hand poised at her throat. Tim was pulling at her 
belt, drawing her reluctantly from her impromptu post. She 
shook her head and tried to focus on his movements. He was 
still fumbling with her belt, cursing softly at its inability to 
budge. Resting against the back of the seat, she placed a hand 
on his arm and motioned for him to stop. After a moment's 
hesitation, she loosened the belt in one swift motion. A 
stronger breeze penetrated the cab of the car, lifting a tendril of 
hair from her shoulder, releasing a long and wistful sigh. 

"Diana. " 

Across the meadow somewhere, the dog howled again, 
endless and low. Selene sat bolt upright, pulling herself from 
Tim's grasp. Her eyes raked over their surroundings, noting 
any shadow that might harbor a fiend among the dancing 
wildflowers. All was quiet, the trees dark and towering 
sentinels around the tranquil setting. 

"What's wrong?" Tim asked thickly, clearing his throat. 

"I don't know ... I'm sorry, but something feels . . . 

different." She pulled at her clothing with clammy fingers that 
would barely obey. 

"What?" He stroked at her hair. 

'There's something . . ." 

"What do you mean, are you sick or somethin'?" 

"I don't know." She stopped and looked up at him. 
"Didn't you hear something?" 

"You mean the dog?" 

"Well, yes, and something else, you . . . didn't hear . . ." 
She squirmed under his questioning stare, pulling her blouse 
more tightly about her. She found herself suddenly longing for 
home. The gazebo. Her simple, solo existence there tantalized 
her. It called out to her. A third wind blew in from afar and 
eddied in the seat between them. Along with it came the scent 
of . . . wisteria ? Selene shivered. 

"Please, Tim, couldn't we just go somewhere else?" 
She glanced around hastily before edging closer to him. "It's 
really strange here." She looked back out at the field. 

"Excuse me, but I thought you liked it here." He 
tugged at her sleeve. "I know / do. Besides, that dog sounds 
pretty far away to me. Sounds like some huntin' dog on the 
lam. I really don't think he's a problem." 

"I did like it, I do, but, I think now. . . I'm not sure. 
Forgive me for acting so paranoid, but isn't this the same no 
matter where we are?" Selene smiled weakly at him. 

"Yeah, sure it is, but I have to admit I do feel like some 
sixteen-year-old kid sneakin' around out here, but, I have a 
brilliant idea. Let's you and me just sneak on back to your 
house, or to my apartment. I'm really sure my roomie won't 
mind butting out for awhile, he owes me one anyhow. . .we 
could pick up some brew, some takeout. . ." He began to reach 
for her again. Selene stiffened. 

"No, not the house, not yet. I know that sounds weird 
to you, but please just bear with me on that, okay? And not 
your place either. I'm not particularly fond of tossing anyone 
out onto the street, not just to satisfy some middle of the night 
craving, favors owed or not. Let's just drive around a little 


more, okay? There is quite a bit of country around here. It's 
just that this particular spot turned out a little . . . spookier than 
I imagined. It feels ... I mean isn't that all right? 

Tim shook his head and sighed, drumming his fingers 
on the back of the seat. "Yeah, okay, okay, why not?" He 
sighed again and reached for the dangling keys, turning them in 
the ignition. The engine ground sluggishly for an instant 
before dying with a hollow click. 

"Oh, no!" he groaned, "not now, not now." He twisted 
the keys again. Silence. Tim lay his forehead against the 
steering wheel. "Why me?" His voice sounded muffled and 
hard. "This is starting to sound like one of those dumb-ass out 
of gas in the dark stories." He raised his head and looked out 
at the road. "Sorry, Miss Selene." 

"What do you think it is?" Selene asked anxiously. 
She peered at the jumble of dials and gauges that decorated the 

"Who knows? Wait here a second." He hoisted him- 
self out. The car rocked gently with the slam of the door, then 
the raising of the hood. Soft, banging, thudding sounds drifted 
back to where Selene sat, rubbing at her invisible necklace, one 
eye fastened on the dark shrubbery that bordered their dusty 
trail. This is not working. She jumped in her seat as Tim let 
the hood drop with a harsh bang. He walked back and reached 
in, trying the keys once more. Nothing happened. 

"Well . . . shit." He glanced up and down the road. 
"Looks like I walk." He tossed the keys under the seat and 
looked at Selene. "You up for aerobics? If not, try the radio, 
maybe that will work." Before she could reply, he was off, 
kicking at an occasional rock as he went, sending clouds of 
dust up into the moist, evening air. 

"Wait!" Selene shouted, climbing quickly from the car 
and stumbling to catch his receding form. For what seemed a 
long while they walked, Selene now and then fighting to 
match Tim's stride, Tim slowing then speeding up again, 
whistling an impatient little number each time she fell behind, 
or when she stopped to remove a pebble lodged in her sandal. 


The silence was broken only by cricket chatter and the sound 
of their crunching footsteps. Am I Endymion bound? Selene 
thought wryly, falling behind once more. 

The trees began to thicken, creeping closer. Their lacy 
black canopy of branches overhead formed a tunnel that 
threatened to squeeze out the diminishing threads of moonlight. 
The sounds of twigs snapping and leaves rustling came and 
went among the wall of trees surrounding their trudging forms. 

"Dryads, leave us!" Selene sang out suddenly into the 
darkness. She stopped instantly, alarmed by the spontaneity of 
her words, as well as their immediate consequences. The 
noises ceased abruptly, silence ensued. 

"Who are you talking to back here?" Tim had retreated 
back to where she stood. 

"Dryads, in Greek mythology, they were spirits of the 
trees, wood nymphs," she explained shyly. She could feel the 
weight of his smirk in the dark, but it failed to distract the 
pounding of her heart. 

"Yeah? Well I think you've been reading too much of 
that stuff, Miss Selene." He snorted. "That sounded like your 
garden variety raccoon to me." He laughed and grabbed her 
hand, pulling her along behind him. Selene remained silent. 
The trees finally began to recede and a small white light ap- 
peared. It shimmered and danced provocatively, growing 
larger as they rounded a steep curve. Selene could make out 
the form of a house just beneath it. A dog barked loud and 
close, heralding their arrival. 

"Man, I hope these yokels have a phone," said Tim. 
He dropped her hand and forged ahead to the little house. 
Selene stopped at a neat picket fence that lined the property. 
Her chest tightening, she raised a hand to her throat. Beyond 
the fence, a wisteria-tangled yard rambled on, its incoherent 
lavender mounds interrupted only by a single stone walkway 
that connected the white house to the roadway. The house 
itself was one story and long, with windows set high and 
sideways into its walls. A lavender- tinted window, crescent in 
shape, had been placed into the center of the front door. 


Tim's knock sounded sharp and intrusive here. Selene, 
still standing at the gate, fought the fleeting notion to call out to 
him to run, that whomever resided here, resided alone. That 
whomever it was should never be disturbed. Whomever? 

She drank deeply from the wisteria's scent. It encircled 
her. She felt herself drawn to the walkway just as a shadow 
moved behind the crescent window in the door. Selene 
reached Tim's side just as the door flew open. A bespectacled 
old man stood there, holding a walker. 

"Children at my door, welcome sweet children, 
welcome!" he cried with a hearty laugh. He held up a hand as 
Tim tried to speak. Nodding knowingly, the old man turned 
and crept back inside, beckoning for them to follow. He 
retreated down a short hallway. He was dressed in white: 
white sweatshirt, white tennis shorts. Selene couldn't help but 
notice how well-muscled his legs were for one so decrepit. 

Tim just shrugged and closed the door behind them. 
Selene held on to his sleeve and followed closely. The old man 
stopped beside a large wooden door, one of three in the hall. 
He reached over his walker and opened the door wide. A 
brighter light spilled from this room. They entered to find 
themselves surrounded by a dazzling display of white. White 
walls, white furniture, white marble busts, and immediately the 
dogs were upon them, pushing in from all sides. Selene and 
Timothy stood still amid the pressing, snuffling noses. All 
breeds and sizes, they covered the immaculate floor, inspecting 
the newcomers in unison. 

"Now, now, leave the children! Leave them!" the old 
man chuckled. He made his way to a large armchair that sat in 
the center of the room like a throne. 

"Do they bite?" Tim asked, as a German shepherd with 
large brown eyes regarded him calmly. 

"Hah!" the old man spat, settling further into his perch. 
"Not these girls, my girls, my special dogs!" 

"You mean they are all females ?" Selene asked, her 
mouth slightly agape. She cautiously patted the head of a 


Welsh Corgi sitting near her feet, its nose quivering beneath 
huge elfin ears. 

"Yes ma'am, not a rowdy male among 'em! Not one!" 

Selene raised her eyebrows at Tim. 

"Uh, do you have a phone we could use? We had a bit 
of car trouble back down the road." Tim jerked his head in the 
direction of the door. 

"Go on, young man, go on. Phone's through there, 
cross that hall, there's a door. Directly across, I mean. That's 
the kitchen. Phone's on the wall." He shooed Tim away with 
one hand as he spoke, digging out a white hankie with the 
other. He proceeded to polish his spectacles. 

"Yeah, okay." Tim nodded to the old man. "Be right 
back." He grinned, and winked at Selene, then patted her 
shoulder as he turned and waded back through the dogs and out 
the door. Soft thumping sounds fell upon the room. The dogs 
were settling about the floor. Selene allowed her eyes to 
browse timidly before stopping at an exquisite bust of a woman 
resting on the mantle. 

"Hestia," she exclaimed, "goddess of the domestic 
hearth. " 

"So, I see you share my. . . passion." The old man was 
smiling. He nudged a spotless footstool from beneath his chair. 

"Sit. I don't bite either, I don't." He grinned slyly. 
Selene inched forward and sank into the footstool. She was 
suddenly aware that her body felt heavy, cumbersome. She 
smiled back at the old man, grateful to be sitting. 

Selene was aware of other busts encircling the room. 
They seemed to swirl like live things. So many, so many . . . 
Selene swallowed. Feeling too warm, she tugged lightly at the 
collar of her blouse, aware of the old man's steady gaze. 

"Your name, dear?" he asked finally. 


"Ah, yes . . . Selene, Greek goddess of the moon. But 
to the Romans it meant . . . Diana ." 

"Yes," Selene whispered, "yes" 

"The huntress, fierce. She fears no man, no beast!" His 


voice was growing deeper, more potent. Selene could only 

"Diana. . . time is brief as we slumber . . ." He fixed 
her more deeply in his crooked stare. "Keep unto you ..." He 
placed a small, cool object in her hand. A round and silver 
amulet, attached to a silver, snakelike chain. The body of a 
woman was carved into its surface. A crescent gemstone, 
lavender in shade, lay embedded in her forehead. It glittered 
like a cold and ancient flame. 

"No, I can't, I . . . can't." 


"Diana, Selene, Diana," he chanted, his voice growing 

Selene felt flushed in the growing glow of the amulet. 
She wanted to be part of it, for it to be part of her. At once a 
long-suppressed hunger emerged, growing inside of her, 
consuming her with sharp pangs of longing. 

"Diana, Selene, Diana." Waxing and waning. 

She swayed in the stream of his words. She felt clumsy 
and large. She had to lift her entire head just to look upon him. 
The old man had leaned forward, into a ray of waiting moon- 
light. Gone were the wizened features, the spectacles. He was 
years younger, centuries older. His hair a glossy crown on his 
noble head. Sinew and muscle stood out clear and strong in the 
curve of his neck. And his eyes, above all else his eyes: they 
were burning white starlight, flickering flames. And when he 
smiled, his teeth were bright and sharp against the rich red 
velvet of his lips. 

Selene's breathing deepened as the room began to 
expand and fall away. Great columns appeared, soaring 
against the impossible stretch of time. And the sweetest music, 
so high and rare, the flutes of Pan . . . 

"Endymion awaits. " His voice penetrated her. Selene 
closed her eyes and the music faded away slowly, becoming a 
soft hum. Her breathing became regular, the swaying stopped, 
and she could feel the room returning more solid around her. 


She opened her eyes to see the old man sitting back in his 
chair, head tilted to one side as he smiled at her. 

"Daydreamin,' missy?" he laughed, sounding coarse 
and old again. 

"Why?" Selene asked weakly. 

"Why what? There are no others here." He gestured 
around the room, then laughing and winking he pressed a 
gnarled finger to his lips. 

The dogs shifted slightly, the door opened, and Tim 

"Hey!" He clicked his fingers and smiled at Selene. "I 
got a hold of Mark, my roommate. He's on his way. I told him 
about where to meet us. I think he got it." 

He looked at the old man. "Hey, thanks for the phone, 
man. I, ah, guess we better scoot if we're gonna catch Mark." 
He waved at the old man. 


"Yes," Selene answered softly. She smiled at the old 
man. "Thank you." 

"Yeah, thanks." Tim echoed, holding his hand out to 
Selene. She grabbed it, moving gracefully through the parting 
sea of dogs, pulling Tim behind her. 

"Farewell, children!" the old man called out from his 
chair. All around him a hundred pairs of canine eyes blinked 
like fireflies. 

"I think you know the way out now!" 

Outside, the warm air was loaded with the wisteria. 
Selene let go of Tim and stepped lightly through their purple 
haze and into the street. 

"Hey, wait up!" Tim called after her. 

"What a weirdo, huh? 'Me and my girls' !" His 
growling mimicry grated against the silken darkness. 

"Leave him be!" Selene interrupted sharply. 

"Excuse me, Miss Selene!" he grumbled. "What the 
hell anyway." He floundered to keep his position beside her. 

"I'm sorry, it's just that he was really a sweet old man," 
she smiled contritely, "and Mark is meeting us so soon! And 


then," she grabbed his hand again, "we can get back to . . . 

"Yeah . . . yeah right." Tim glanced at her curiously as 
he hurried along. 

They traveled the rest of the way in silence. With 
Selene keeping her hand locked tightly in Tim's, they seemed 
to glide with relentless, effortless ease, reaching the car in 
shortened time. Selene released Tim from her grip. Before 
they had a chance to speak, Mark's truck came roaring and 
jouncing down the road, raising dust like fog in the beam of his 

"Hey, Timbo!" he yelled out over the low booming 
sounds of the rock music emanating from around him as he 
lowered his window. 

"Hey . . ." Tim called back slowly, like a man 
awakening from sleep. 

"What's up, man?" He laughed and leaned further from 
the window to peer at Tim's car, where Selene now lolled 
against the lifeless hood. 

"Wish I knew!" He glanced at Selene. "Car's dead, 

"Let's hear it! " The thunderous sounds of the rock 
music died as Tim leaned over and fished the keys from under 
the seat. He ground them into the ignition. The car's motor 
hummed smoothly to life. Selene smiled. 

"What the hell?" Tim slapped the side of the car. 
"This bitch was dead, I mean really dead!" 

"Yeah, yeah!" Mark shook his head and leered at 

"Really, it was! I don't get it!" Tim turned the ignition 
off, then on again. Again the engine roared. 

"What now?" Mark drummed on his steering wheel in 
time to a phantom tune in his head. 

"Hold on a sec!" Tim grabbed Selene's arm. "Well, 
the night's still young in my book, what do you say?" 


"You mean your home? I thought it was off limits." 


"I meant take me home, please, as in 'drop me off," 
Selene answered calmly. 


"Some other night, please. I really don't feel up to it 
now." She blinked and looked away. "I'd forgotten there are 
some things I have to attend to early." She looked back into his 
eyes. "Really." 

"Come on, no way, you're kidding, right?" He 
squeezed her arm more tightly. 

"No, I am not." She pulled away and glared at him. 

"I'm sorry." He ignored the blast from Mark's horn. 
Moving closer he touched her cheek. 

"Please, Tim." She offered a tiny smile. "I really need 
to go home now." 

He stared into her face for a long second. "Okay . . . 
let's go then." He turned and waved at Mark. "Hey man, 
follow us. I'll buy you a beer!" 

Mark gave a thumbs up and rolled up his window. As 
Tim pulled out into the road, Mark followed, his headlights 
shining like twin moons through the rear window. They rode 
in silence, the weight of the evening between them. Selene 
allowed him a brief kiss after he maneuvered the car beside the 
curb in front of her darkened house. 

"Next week try it again?" he offered quietly, and 
smiled. Selene nodded and smiled back. She rose quickly 
from the car and was on her front porch, never looking back 
when he drove away, Mark in noisy pursuit. 

Selene turned her face into the rising breeze that pushed 
impatiently at her hair and clothing. She went around the side 
of the house, through the dew-laden backyard to the garden 
below. She crossed to the gazebo, crawling with its white 
roses, so pure in the moonlight. She stood in its center and put 
a hand to her throat, pulling the amulet from beneath the collar 
of her blouse, where it had nestled perfectly in the smooth 
hollow there. Its coolness burned into her. 

"Endymion, " she whispered. The roses were like 
small marble figures that seemed to brighten immediately. 


They began a dance of prelude, swirling faster and faster, 
always at the perimeter of her vision. They danced and 
danced. Selene began to sway. 

A wind blew powerfully from across the calm of the 
moon-draped fields below. All other sounds ceased as it 
deposited a single sound in its wake. 

"Diana. " 

Moonlight Series No. 3 

Theresa Anderson 


Natural Events 

Lawn mower growls 
over noise of black 
bird's cawing, red-headed 

woodpecker flies down 
street, perpendicular 
to flight pattern of 

plane's spiraling trail 
overhead. Blue birds ruffle 
dried palm leaves sweeping 

down past my chair where 
bees buzz atop 
nandinas swaying 

in slight breeze. Closer 
orange butterfly skims 
fuchsia dianthus 

potted on wrought iron 
table, sun casting 
shadow below. Above 

on a branch cooing closely 
is a pair of plump gray 
doves. Double 

black love bugs sit 
united on my arm, 
constantly copulating. 

Rachel McReynolds Brown 



a u 

Q y 





That Dark Winter 

I had a fake laugh, a pretentious smile. 

Black Michael knew it. He saw, 

Before he stepped over to the wrong side. 

Ralph gave in. Bullet in the head, 

Christmas Day. 

So did what's-her-name . . . Lynn, 

But she took it in the heart. 

Christ! I was too young . . . 

Dane and I would climb the tree— 

The one in the park across from Officers' Row— 

and drink Evan Williams. No chaser, 

Unless we did boilermakers. Didn't matter, 

All I ever wanted to know was how I got home. 

I had the band, you know. 

But that's all I had. 

I knew I was going to make it, 

Knew I had it in me, 

And I knew I would find it someday, 

Maybe after a few more songs. 

Dane'bramage, Psycho-Eric the fugitive, and myself. 

When it comes down to it, 

We weren't that bad. 

Ellie brought you over, 

But I didn't believe in love. 

I was like Ralph; 

Ralph — The Eater of Shotgun Barrels, 

Ralph the Thorough. 

And you, looking so mature to be so young, 

So metropolitan, bewildered by me? 

Ragged, dirty jeans, a faded shirt 

Drying in the salt air . . . pickled, 

Long greasy hair and the smell of cheap beer, 


Sweat. Not the sweat you know. 
No, the sweat of an animal, 
Fight or flight. The sweat of fear. 
How could I not feel your presence 
Crawling in my frightened mind 
Like the stamp of the sun, 
Vivid even after you look away? 

That aura of innocent mystery 

lurking beneath your smile. 

Your dark eyes and sidelong glance. 

I pretended not to notice as you sat, 

hands between your knees, toes turned in, 

absorbing the room 

when you added just a word to its conversation. 

I called. I offered you a ride. 

I took you to Bonaventure cemetery, 

Put my round shades on the life-size Jesus statue: 

Instant John Lennon... 

But I worshiped you. I'd found my icon, 
My missing jigsaw-puzzle piece. 
A princess? It's your middle name. 
"Princess of the Morning Star," am I to blame? 
Am I to blame, my little dove, 
In that dark winter I fell in love? 

Forrest Jackson 


Safety in Numbers 

Susan Parker 

"Okay, sit back a little, and don't slouch," Theresa 
says, expertly dabbing a tiny, wedge-shaped brush into a 

Really Raisin. What a stupid name for a lipstick. 
Burnished Bronze would sound so much more sophisticated. 

She tests the brush on the back of her hand before 
leaning over to fill in the outline she traced over my mouth a 
few minutes ago. "You should definitely get some of these 
brushes, Lisa. They don't cost too much and they last forever." 

I don't want to ask how much they are, because people 
look at you funny when you ask how much things are in here, 
but I'm not sure I brought enough cash to cover the facial and 
make-over. Oh, what the hell, I'll write a check and stop by 
the bank later. "I've been looking for a good set of brushes. 
You think these are the best?" 

"I've had mine since I got my state license, and that 
was six years ago. Kelly Martin gave them to me when I 
passed the cosmetology exam. Do you remember her? She was 
in homeroom with us before she dropped out of school. She 
used to work here, before the baby and all. She said I had a 
natural talent, and natural talent should not be wasted on cheap 
brushes. I've never used anything else since." 

I divine from this testimonial that the brushes are a bit 
on the expensive side, but I don't feel like I can say no, and 
besides, I can think of a bunch of other reasons why I should 
get them — I've already given Mom and Dad money this month, 
it's Saturday and I'm going out tonight, and I know Amy and 
Renee don't have brushes like these — and besides, I want 
them. "Well, you'd better add a set to my other things, 
Theresa. I'm sure I won't get the same effect using the cheap 

She smiles and nods to Charlene, who disappears into 
the stockroom to get the brushes. "Okay, we just need a bit of 
finish powder and we're done." She picks up a fat brush, 


poking it into a tub of loose powder, and taps it gently on the 
edge of the pot. "Do it just like this," she says, dusting my 
face lightly, "or you'll wind up using too much, and you'll 
look like a ghost." 

Theresa always lets me in on a trade secret or two every 
time I get my face done. The first thing she ever taught me 
was to get all my cosmetic ducks in a row before I start putting 
anything on. The second was to make sure that I'm not allergic 
to the make-up, preferably before Saturday night. 

"No matter what kind of cosmetics you use, though," 
she had cautioned during last month's visit, "you have to have 
the right kind of light. If the light's wrong, you won't put the 
make-up on right, and honey, you won't even look good in 
candlelight." She told me to go to Farrier's Lighting and ask 
for a Cameo bulb by name. "That's the only kind of bulb we 
use in our vanity mirrors here." 

I step down awkwardly from the high crimson suede 
and brass chair. "Ugh, I've been sitting too long." 

"Well, the stiff legs are worth it — you look fabulous. 
How's that Cameo bulb working out for you?" she asks as we 
head over to the reception desk at the front of the salon. 

"I'm going to Farrier's today. I was so busy last month 
I never had time to pick one up," I say, rummaging around in 
my bag for my wallet. The truth is, the bulb costs $35, and I 
didn't have enough money for it. My birthday was a couple of 
weeks ago, though, and Nana Mills always sends me a check 
for $50, "for girl things." 

Well, you'll just love the difference," she assures me as 
we arrive at the desk. "Charlene, that's a facial and a make- 
over, plus everything in this basket, and she has a twenty 
percent club card," she says crisply. "Next month, Lisa?" 

"Next month, Theresa. Thanks a lot." 

"See you then." 

"That'll be $89.95, Miss Mills," Charlene says 
pleasantly, handing me the famous crimson, lapis, and gold 
Chateau San Michelle bag with my cosmetics and brush set as I 
write out the check and glance at my watch. 2:45 pm — just 


enough time to run to Farrier's for that bulb and get home to do 
my nails and toes. 

"Lisa, telephone!" Mom yells up the stairs. "It's 

Shit, I'm right in the middle of doing my lips. "Ma, 
could you ask her if I can call her back?" 

"She says it's important." 

"Okay, be right there." I wish for the hundredth time 
that I had a phone in my bedroom instead of having to use the 
one in the hall. "Got it!" I yell, saying nothing into the 
receiver until I hear her hang up the downstairs extension. 

"Renee, I have half-painted lips," I greet her. "What's 

"Tim's bringing someone." 


"A guy named Mark." 

"Well, that changes things, doesn't it?" 

"Oh, I don't think so. Craig says he's not really 

"Oh, well that's different. Mark ... I seem to 
remember a Mark." 

"The name sounds vaguely familiar." 

"Didn't Tim have a roommate in college named Mark? 

"Yeah, I think so." 

"Whatever. Did you call Amy yet?" 

"No, I thought you could." 

"I have half-painted lips, Renee. Do you mind?" 

"No, it's okay. I'm ready. Craig, Slip, and Amy are 
picking me up at 8:45. You're going with Tim and Mark. 
We'll meet you at Indy's around nine-ish," she says, which 
always means closer to 9:30. 

"Well, I'm glad you called to tell me, because I would 
have been pissed if I'd gotten into the car and there was 
someone there." 


"Craig says he's not, so don't worry about it. I just 
thought you'd want to know. How was Theresa today?" 

"She's always great. Hey, I finally got that Cameo bulb 
today. She's right, it makes a big difference. I got a set of 
their brushes, too." 

"Got any money left for drinks tonight?" 

"Just barely. Besides, since when do we ever have to 
buy more than two?" 

Renee laughs. "True, true. Go do your lips. I'll talk to 
you later." 

"Later." I hang up the phone and rush back to the 
warm Cameo light in the bathroom to finish getting ready. 

The six of us have a strange relationship, Tim, Slip, 
Craig, Renee, Amy, and I. We go out together almost every 
weekend, unless one of us has a date with someone else. We 
don't date each other; that would be like dating a brother or a 
sister — gross. 

Going out with the guys is great, because there are so 
many situations that we never have to deal with. First of all, no 
one ever looks like they're alone. For some reason, this tends 
to attract people; the guys always say that they get more phone 
numbers now going out with us than they ever did before going 
out by themselves. 

And God knows, Amy, Renee, and I never have a 
problem getting guys — guys are only interested in the girls that 
are with other guys, not the girls that are obviously available. 

The neat thing is that you don't have to do anything 
more than arrive together and hang out together for people to 
think you actually ARE together. Renee came up with a really 
great idea once: give your money to the guys for the cover 
charge, and let them pay for you. It looks to everyone else as if 
someone is paying your way, which, if you're female, is 
always preferable to paying yourself. 


What I really like is that if one of us meets someone 
that we'd rather get rid of later, it's no problem. Amy, Renee, 
and I all do a great impersonation of a jealous girlfriend, and 
Tim, Slip, and Craig can look pretty intimidating when they 
want to. I mean, who knows what kind of weirdos you'll run 
into — it's not like they wear a sticker that says, "Hello, my 
name is CREEP," although that would be convenient. 

Tim and this Mark person are downstairs talking with 
Mom and Dad as I decide on the ruby earrings I got for my 
sixteenth birthday and a gold bracelet. I go for a short, button- 
front black dress instead of the ruffled poet's shirt and blue 
skirt that I had originally intended to wear, mainly because 
we're going to Indy's, but also because I don't entirely trust 
Craig's opinion about Mark. For all I know, he could be 

I check my legs one more time for runs in my 
stockings, then head downstairs. Walk slow, walk slow, walk 

"Hey, Lisa," Tim calls from the living room. "Are you 
ready? It's almost nine." 

"Yeah, I'm ready. How do I look?" I ask, twirling 
around as I walk into the room. 

"Great," he says absently. "You always look great." 

"Your enthusiasm is overwhelming." 

"I'm sure all the guys at Indy's will have plenty of 
enthusiasm for you," he says waving his friend over. "This is 
Mark, my roommate from college." 

Well, so much for that. He's good-looking, but he's 
dark, maybe Italian, and my ideal guy looks more like the 
Fisher-Price man — blond hair, fair skin, and a total yuppie, but 
with a dark, passionate side. Mom and Dad are smiling their 
dumb "We Like Him" smile at me over their newspapers from 
the sofa, which means this guy is a dead bore. 

I try to think of something witty to say. "Tim says 
you're a total lady-killer, Mark, but you seem perfectly safe to 


me," is the best I can come up with, and I smile at him as he 
holds out a hand for me to shake. Very safe . . . too bad. 

"I swear I haven't killed anyone," he chuckles. "What 
else have you been saying?" He gives Tim a look. 

"I told everyone that you're also a fascist and a chronic 
bed-wetter." Tim smiles, looking pleased with himself. 

"Great, Matheson, that's just great." 

"Come on, we need to go," Tim says, moving towards 
the front door. "See you later, Mr. and Mrs. Mills." 

"Have a good time," they call after us. "Nice to have 
met you, Mark." 

Tim's already in the driver's seat, and I automatically 
move for the front passenger's seat. Mark opens the door for 
me, and as I look up at him, I can see the light from the street 
lamps reflect off his dark eyes like metal. 

"I get car sick if I sit in back. Do you mind?" 

"No, no," he smiles, and I can tell he sees right through 
the lie. He gives me a look that says he knows I'm not getting 
out of the back seat when we get to Indy's. 

There is a huge crowd in the parking lot when we pull 
in, and there are blue lights from a police car flashing 

"Shit, I hope there wasn't a fight," I say. "Remember 
last August, Tim, when they shut the club down just as we got 
here because some guys had gotten in a major brawl?" 

"Hell, yeah." He looks over his shoulder at Mark. "It 
was outrageous, man. Oh, wait." he says, pointing. "It's just a 
speeder or something." 

"Thank God. Hey, there's Craig," I say, as Mark rolls 
down his window. 

"Where are you parked?" Mark yells, and Craig waves 
him over to the space the others have saved for us. Slip always 
parks his car diagonally across two spaces to make sure that we 
park next to each other. I pull the visor mirror down to check 


my make-up and hand Tim a five dollar bill for the cover 
charge as we pull in. 

"For services rendered," I tease him. I catch Mark's 
glance in the mirror as he cocks an eyebrow at us. Tim takes 
the bill in his teeth and laughs. 

The car doors slam as I check my lips and Mark opens 
my door for me before I get a chance to do it myself. 


I accept the hand he holds out to help me from the car, 
smile at him, and brush past airily to go meet Amy and Renee. 

Eat your heart out, Mark. 

"I swear to God," Amy gripes, "you have to come in 
here practically naked if you want to compete with the damn 

No shit," Renee agrees, eyeing the skimpy scarlet slip 
dress gyrating past us with a cocktail tray. I wish they'd 
change their uniforms." 

"I don't!" Slip leers at the leggy blonde waitress 
wearing a white sash with the words Winner's Circle 
emblazoned on it as she stops to take our drink order. 

"If I owned this place, I'd make them wear the same 
uniforms as the bartenders," I grin, nodding towards the guy 
standing at the keg tap behind the bar in a royal blue union suit 
that says Pit Crew on the back. 

"Green flag went down twenty minutes ago, guys, you 
got ten minutes left," the waitress says, wagging her head 
around in time to the nonsensical top forty music that I'd never 
listen to outside of a dance club. 

Mark looks at Craig blankly. "Green flag?" 

"Green flag means there's a drink special," he ex- 
plains. "Every time you buy one, it counts as one lap in the 
Indy 500, and when you have 500 laps, you get a T-shirt." 

"How many laps do you have?" 

"351," the waitress answers for Craig. "He and Slip 


are the two biggest drunks ... ah, I mean, best customers, in 
the bar." 

'Thanks, Karen," Slip smirks at her. "What's the 
special?" he asks as Mark pulls a twenty out of his wallet. 

"B-52 shooters for a buck." 

'There are seven of us," Mark says, handing her the 
money. "How about a round of doubles?" 

"Sure. Be right back." 

"Speaking of drunks," Amy says as Tim joins us, 
sloshing beer over his hands from the three plastic cups he's 
holding, with a waitress in tow who's got another four. 

"Gentlemen," he roars, "start your engines ! ' 

"Tim, that's so tired," Renee groans, relieving him of a 
plastic cup. "You have to come up with a new line." 

"Thank you thank you thank you," Amy says, plucking 
a beer from the waitress's tray. "Hey, Renee, Paul Goodman 
and Jeff Leary are at the bar." She links her arm through 
Renee' s, and pulls her in the direction of the blue neon light 
over The Pit. 

"Hey, hey, watch the brew!" Renee looks over her 
shoulder at me. "Back in a few. Don't let the sots steal my 

"Your alcohol is safe with me." I look around, 
scanning the mob for somebody interesting, or at least familiar, 
to flirt with. Apparently, my Fisher-Price man has yet to reveal 
himself tonight, so I turn back to Mark. Practice Makes Per- 

"Doesn't take them very long to get going, does it?" 
Mark says, handing me a beer. 

"So many men, so little time," I reply. "Gotta work 
fast if you're going to get to them all by last call." I take a 
deep swallow of the beer while he has a good laugh over that 
one. "Okay, now watch Renee," I say conspiratorially. 
"She'll put her hand on his arm, flip her hair, probably laugh at 
some lame joke of his, and then it's all over — the guy's a 


"Oh, is that how it works?" 

I laugh. "It works for me." 

"Guys don't get that devious about women. We just hit 
them over the head with our clubs and drag them back to our 
caves," he jokes. I chuckle lightly, not really amused, but he's 
Tim's friend. 

"Come on, let's go dance," he says, taking my arm. 

"Well . . . wait, our shots are here." 

"No problem," he says, taking two glasses off the tray. 
"We'll just take them to go." 

Oh, what the hell, I'll just ask Tim later to tell Mark 
that he's not my type. There's no harm in a dance. I finish my 
beer and follow him out onto the dance floor. 

Everyone else seems to consider this a novel idea; 
Renee and Amy follow us with their shots and their men, and 
Slip, Craig, and Tim are trying to coax some girls to go dance 
with them. For some reason, this makes me feel better. I start 
to relax and enjoy the music, joining in the loud "whoop" as 
we all drink down our shots and pass the empty cups off to a 

The song ends, and the damn D.J. throws on a slow 
love song. I stand there, staring at Mark like an idiot, while 
everyone else pairs off. He won't let go of my hand, and I 
don't want to make a scene, so I stay and dance with him. The 
light on the dance floor changes to red, with little bubbles of 
white flitting through it. 

"Why do they think this is romantic?" I ask Mark. "I 
feel like I'm in a deranged fish tank or something." 

Dammit, I can feel his hips leaning into me. He's too 
close. I feel smothered. I pull away as the song mercifully 
ends and the beat picks up. INXS with strobe lights — thank 

How do you feel? 

I'm lonely. 

What do you think? 

Can 't think at all. 


"Where are you going?" he says, and his voice seems 
different to me. 

"It's not a slow song." I pull away as he snakes his arm 
around my waist and I feel his fingers close on my rear end. 

"Hey, it works for me." 

The strobe lights are so weird; they make Mark look as 
if someone were cutting out every other motion of his body, so 
that he appears here one moment and there the next. He looks 
like a caricature of a person dancing as he leans towards me 
and looks right in my eyes. 

"I think it works for you, too. Come on." 

I'm out of here. Tim's just going to have to call off his 
caveman friend, and I could care less if he thinks I'm being a 

I pull away from him to walk off the dance floor, and 
then I feel this jarring pain in my chest as I stumble back into 
Renee. She turns with an irritated "Hey!" and sucks in her 

"Holy shit!" She rushes over and grabs my collar. 

I realize that my skin feels cold — the front of my dress 
is wide open. 

Renee pulls off the cropped jacket she's wearing and 
spreads it over my chest. "Amy!" 

"Jesus Christ! Come on." Amy grabs my arm and 
steers us towards the ladies' room. 

I'm coughing. I can't speak. My chest is killing me. 

"What happened?" Amy yells over the music. 

I catch a glimpse of Tim pushing Mark and yelling 
something at him before the ladies' room door closes behind 
us, muffling the loud music outside. 

"Fuck, I don't think I can fix this, Lisa," Renee says 
matter-of-factly, examining the bodice of my dress. "Three 
buttons are missing, and this one's just barely hanging on." 

"You're going to have a hell of a bruise there. What 
happened?" repeats Amy, rubbing her hands over my 


"I don't know/' I clutch my dress closed and look at 
Renee. "I don't know. What happened?" I'm screaming, my 
chest feels so tight, and my whole head feels burning hot. 
What just happened to me? 

It hurts to scream, to talk even, and I lean on the sink, 
trying to get air into my lungs. 

"Jesus, we have to get her out of here," Renee says 
nervously to Amy. "Go tell Slip we need his car." 

I hear Amy leave as the muffled noise outside blasts 
into the ladies' room when she opens the door. There is no 
music now, only a loud burst of voices shouting, and the 
relative quiet descends again as the door shuts. 

"Come on, let's see if we can get you fixed up a little," 
Renee says, putting her arm around my shoulders and turning 
on the cold water tap. She squats down in front of me and 
frowns, looking closely at the tears and pulled threads on my 
dress where the polished buttons used to be. She picks at them 
for a minute while I stand there wheezing. "Put my jacket on, 
Lisa." Renee shakes her head at me as Amy returns. 

"Damn, that was fast, Amy. What's going on?" 

"Let's go. The police are closing the club," Amy says, 
holding Slip's keys. "There's been a fight." 

I wipe my fingers over my eyes and look in the mirror. 

The fluorescent lights overhead cast a greenish tinge 
over the antiseptic-looking metal fixtures in the bathroom. 

Mascara stands out on my pale skin in wide smears; 
my skin looks sallow under the light. 

I look ghoulish, garish. 

I shake my head at Renee. 

I can't fix this. 


Metaphysical Jetty 

Keith Langston 


To Mary Stewart 

Brilliant stars stud a 

Black domed sky 

Like a ring of wolves eyes 

A blaze of darkness 

An innocent moon and a 

Lover's voice 

Sultry and cat-sleepy 

Yet sheathing a bright edged dagger 

Softly bound and cornered 
In her shadowed nest 
Siphoned by her dangerous caress 
I'm drawn nearer to the flame 

Treading the balance between 
Distance and obsession 
Although I know I'll be punished severely 
For occupying heaven 

Bobby Myers 



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Everyday Abstraction 

Cindy Intorre 


Peeping Tom's Dream 

Cindy Intorre 


In Working Order 

Doug Spinks 


"Wine, Mistress?" 

Patricia Saunders 

I looked around me. The tiny space, barely four feet by 
three, and the barred walls and ceiling seemed more fit for an 
animal than a human being. Clean straw covered the floor, and 
there was a pan of water in one corner. I could see many cells 
like mine, lining the walls of the large room. They were 
stacked, each cage four feet high, with a small, locked gate that 
could be raised and lowered for a door. They were not meant 
to be entered standing. The occupants of these cells wore, as I 
did, a sturdy metal collar locked inflexibly around their necks. 
I had been told that mine bore the symbol of the House of 
Tasra. We were naked in the cages, to save expense of 
clothing, and the dry straw prickled and scratched at every 
movement. I pulled the thin blanket around me and wondered 
what I was here for. 

I heard footsteps approach on the catwalk spanning the 
room. They stopped with a jangle of keys as the sandaled feet 
of a guard and a scribe stood before my cage. "Take this one 
from the kennels and have him washed and combed," the 
scribe said. "The Mistress wishes to be served in her rooms 
this evening." He wrote something in the book he carried as 
the guard nodded. With a swish of robes, the scribe turned and 
they left the room. I heard the hushed whispers of the others 
discussing me. 

"She picked that one," one said. 

"I wish I had been chosen," remarked another. None 
spoke loudly, of course, fearing the whip of the guard. 

I had already seen one beating earlier that day. A slave 
girl had stolen a pastry from the kitchens, thinking she was 
alone. A cook walked in on her as she was eating, and sent her 
to the kennels for punishment. She had been chained to a post, 
her slender wrist hoisted up above her head, forcing her to 
stand on the tips of her toes. She hung there beautifully, every 
blow of the whip bringing tears and soft cries from her. Welts 
shone red on her smooth back. The guard was not gentle with 


her, nor was he cruel. He paced each blow evenly, not 
choosing to vary interval and strength to devastate her, 
breaking down the emotional barriers she had erected around 
her, and leaving her intensely vulnerable and helpless, but to 
give her a very firm reminder of her place under the Master or 
Mistress. She received ten lashes of a Talusian slave whip. 
The beating only lasted ten arcs, but I could still hear her 
weeping in her cage. 

It was near the sixth arch when I heard the guard 
returning for me. He unlocked the kennel and raised the gate. 
He motioned for me to come out. 

"Come on, we haven't got all day. The Mistress wants 
you in fifty arcs, and you still stink of the pens." A Talusian 
arc corresponds to a Terran minute, an arch to an hour. There 
were about thirty Terran minutes left before my appointment 
with the Mistress, Lady Tasra. 

He snapped the leash on my collar as I crawled out of 
the cage. My hands were braceleted behind me, and I was led 
impatiently to the baths. Attendants took me from the guard, 
who unlocked my wrists, throwing the bracelets on a table 
nearby, the key left in them. The door to the baths was of 
sturdy wood. It was bound with iron, and fastened with a 
heavy, locking beam. 

While the attendants bathed me, my mind whirled. 
What would Tasra be like? I wondered why she had chosen 
me to serve tonight. Surely any one of her other slaves would 
be more pleasant to look upon than I. Perhaps if I pleased her, 
I could increase my lot. A softer cell, a warmer blanket, better 
food, even clothing in the kennels could be had, if one was 
pleasing. If one was lucky, one could even sleep on the tiles at 
the foot of the Mistress's couch at night, chained to the slave 
ring there. 

I was dried, and dressed in perfumed slave silk. It was 
a yellow tunic, with a necklace of red slave beads. A belt of 
binding fiber completed the outfit. It was suitable for the tying 
of wrists or ankles, or as a leash or tether for the securing of the 
slave, should the Master or Mistress desire. My hair was tied 


back with a yellow ribbon. The bracelets were snapped on my 
wrists again, this time before my body, and I was led down a 
smooth-tiled stone corridor by a guard. 

We stopped before one of the many doors lining the 
hallway. The guard knocked three times on the door. A low, 
melodious voice called "Enter." This was the moment I had 
been uneasy over since I had been chosen for this evening. My 
fists clenched unconsciously in the bracelets. The guard 
opened the door and prodded me in with the end of his whip. 
"Here he is, Mistress. Bathed and combed." And to me: "You 
are in the presence of the Mistress, slave." He lashed the back 
of my knees; I obediently knelt on the tiles. 

As I remained on the cool floor, I thought about my 
choices. I was being given a chance to prove my worth as a 
pleasure slave. I could return to the fighting pits, where free 
men and women placed wagers on the outcome of fights to 
unconsciousness, or to the death between slaves. The sweat, 
the gore, maiming, all part of the life I could get away from if I 
only showed I could be a silk slave, intended for the pleasures 
of my Mistress or Master. Tasra had given me the choice, by 
choosing me from the fighting stable of her father. All I had to 
do was serve her well. 

I had a good life in the stable; I was strong, and had 
won many fights. Tasra must have seen me there, veiled and 
robed as all self-respecting Talusian free women. I had gained 
much respect there. What kind of respect could I have as the 
plaything of a woman? Perhaps I should rebel against her. She 
would probably send me back to the stable where I would still 
have my dignity, even though my standings in the Pits had 
been dropped. Once slaves are purchased from a fighting 
stable, their ratings are dropped if they were bought for non- 
fighting purposes, or rendered probationary until they re-fight 
their last rated contest. Ratings are based on survival, and 
winning fights. A first-ranked fighter can often earn some 
money from his own fights, and place bets with that money. 
Some fighting slaves have even been known to purchase their 
own freedom, although I have never met a former fighter. I 


had been third in my division, a high rank for a second-season 

I slowly raised my eyes from their respectful gaze at the 
floor. I saw a richly appointed room. The tiles were strewn 
with costly furs of unknown origin and lustrous colors. The 
cushions and small, low tables clustered around the room were 
done in deep reds and golds, accented with blues and silver. 

There were many tapestries on the gray stone walls. 
Some seemed to depict famous battles with the neighboring 
city-states. Others showed scenes of pleasure gardens, with 
shapely slaves serving the whims and pleasures of free persons 
in various intimate ways. One showed a Master having a slave 
given up to the Slave Death. This one was of a slave being 
thrown, bound and helpless, to the sewer scavengers, similar to 
Terran rats. It was thought that scenes of this sort were good 
for reminding slaves of the danger of not being fully pleasing. 
Slaves are fully owned, and the death of a slave is of no 
moment to society. The tapestries were painstakingly woven, 
and rich with detail. The agony on the slave's face from the 
pain, and the shame of such a petty death, showed clearly on 
his upturned face. 

The Mistress reclined on a silken couch, surrounded by 
many large, fringed pillows. Her couch lay on a slightly raised 
dais, and commanded the center of the room. She wore 
pleasure robes in a soft rose color, complementing her lustrous 
auburn hair. Her hair fell in glistening waves, flowing to the 
soft curve where hip meets thigh. Her robes were translucent, 
showing hints and promise of the creamy flesh below. I found 
her beauty almost painful, and wondered if the soft, pampered 
life of a pleasure slave might not be so bad. 

A low table stood beside the couch. I saw a flask of 
wine on it, the bottle bearing the marks of a city-state to the 
south. Several heavy, ornate goblets rested near the flask. 
This, then, would be the moment of decision. If I served her, I 
would be a pleasure slave, serving the pleasure of whomever 
the Mistress desired. If I did not, I would risk death, or 
reduction to the fighting slave I had been. 


Tasra pointed to the tiles at her feet. I moved to kneel 
where she indicated, back on my heels, knees wide, head up, 
hands resting palm upward on my thighs, in the position of a 
pleasure slave. "Wine," she said. "If you would choose the 
life of a pleasure slave, you may find that I can be kind. It is 
possible to earn your freedom, if you are sufficiently pleasing." 
She moved elegantly, shifting her position on the couch. "I 
have many rivals. You can make it easy for me to defeat them. 
Slaves are rarely taken note of, and are often present at 
meetings, for the pleasure of those attending. Much may be 
overheard that is of use to me." She leaned forward to make 
certain I was paying proper attention, and fixed me with a 
steely gaze. "Of course, you will be a true pleasure, here as 
well as there. I am offering you the chance to use not only 
your body, but your mind in my service. That is not something 
lightly offered to any slave." She relaxed and leaned back, 
coolly appraising my body. "Besides, your body is well- 
formed, and you would make a superb addition to many love 
gardens. Mind you, I am not an easy Mistress. You will be 
kept under strict discipline at all times." With a hard stare she 
said, "Displease me and you will be severely punished." 

My mind reeled. The chance of freedom was worth the 
risk. I admired the planning that was behind using a slave to 
spy. And as a free man, I had a chance of suing for the hand of 
such a woman in Free Companionship. Together, a team like 
that could soon control the commerce in any city. I reached to 
the table for the flask. I carefully poured the wine to the third 
ring of the goblet. Extending my arms, I offered the vessel to 
Tasra, head bowed. 

"Wine, Mistress?" 


Five To Life 

Jamie Burchett 

"Matt!" Denise cried. "Come on, we don't have all 
day, you know!" Matt trudged over to where his fiancee was 

"Now open the truck door for me. You know what I've 
said about developing good and gentleman-like manners," she 

"Of course, dear," Matt replied. 

He opened the door with an exaggerated swoop of his 
arms. Denise climbed into the pickup, batting her eyes and 
nodding her head like a princess, as Matt held the door for her. 
He looked down at her sandaled foot with her perfectly painted 
pink toenails smiling out. 

I wonder if it would crack her toenail polish if I just 
slammed the hell out of this door right now, he thought, eyeing 
her foot. 

"Okay, Matt, I'm in, dear," she said. 

"Of course you are," he said, still staring at the spot 
where her foot had been moments before. He climbed into the 
driver's seat and buckled up for the ride. 

"Now first of all we have to go to the Briar Patch to 
pick up that cute little basket of pillows that I saw. Won't that 
just be darling next to our new couch?" she asked. 

"Of course, honey," Matt replied. I'd love to have a 
basket of pillows handy to stuff into your big fat blabbering 
mouth, he thought. Matt smiled. 

"What are you over there grinning about, sweetheart? 
Are you thinking about our wedding night? We've only got 
three more weeks to go!" she said, checking her hair in the 
visor mirror. 

Oh God, three weeks. Where did the last six months 
go? Matt thought, as he watched a little red sports car speed 
happily past them. I wonder if it's too late to join a monastery. 

"MATT!" Denise screamed. "Hello! Where are you! 
We were supposed to turn back there at the mall, you big idiot! 


You better be glad you have me to lead you along life's path, 
or you'd be lost forever!" she finished, as she slammed her 
makeup case shut. 

"Oh, I was just thinking . . . uh . . . about . . . uh . . . 
you," Matt said, trying to smile. 

"Ah, aren't you so sweet. I don't deserve you, honey," 
she replied smiling. 

"I know," Matt mumbled under his breath. 

She shot him a look to kill, and said, "Now turn around 
and go back to the turn you missed. I've just got to have that 
pillow basket." She began to dig in her purse for her brush. 

Matt parked the truck on the curb next to the NO 
PARKING sign so Denise wouldn't have to walk too far. He 
got out of the truck and walked to the sidewalk. 

"Matt!" he heard Denise' s muffled voice shouting. 
"Come open my DOOR!" she said. A couple looking just a 
little older than Matt and Denise walked by the truck as Denise 
screamed and pouted. They looked at her and then looked over 
to see Matt. The young man, holding the girl's hand, could 
only give Matt a look of pity. Then he turned back to his 
partner and smiled warmly at her. They huddled closer 
together and strolled into the mall hand in hand. Matt looked 
after them and remembered when Denise used to hold his hand. 
He stood there alone, watching the couple giggle and cuddle as 
they walked away. 

"Are you ever going to get me out of here, because I 
know that you don't want me to open this door for myself . . . 
DO YOU?" Denise called through the window of the truck. 

"Of course not, dear. I'm so sorry, please forgive me," 
Matt said flatly as he opened her door. "Now don't slip and 
break your neck getting out on this curb," he said. 

"Oh honey, you are the sweetest kindest man in the 
whole world for thinking of me, and caring that I don't get 
hurt," she said to him. She held out her hand for him to take, 
and assist her out of the truck. 


I wonder if she'd be permanently scarred if I yanked 
her scrawny little arm and threw her stiff ass on the concrete 
one time, he thought, looking down at the hard sidewalk. 

"MATT!" she growled. "Your grip is hurting me, you 
big brute. I'm going to BRUISE!" He let go of her arm, and 
allowed his fantasy to float away with it. 

"Now come on, we've got important matters to attend 
to. Quit lollygagging," she said over her shoulder as she 
walked toward the entrance. Once she reached the double 
doors of the mall she stopped, and waited, tapping her sandaled 
toes on the sidewalk. Matt quickly caught up with her and 
tried to open the door for her. However, he pulled instead of 
pushed, and ended up going nowhere. 

"Oh my God, do you embarrass me on purpose, or were 
you just born this way?" she said as she pushed the door open 
for herself, and marched past him. Matt stood there watching 
her swish her hair from side to side as she prissed and primped 
through the corridor. He watched the teenage boys at the 
arcade as they looked her up and down. 

Yep, he thought, she's a nice package on the outside . . . 
just DON'T piss her off, he advised them silently. He looked 
down at the trash can beside him. A Pepsi can stuck out of the 
canister, just far enough for Matt to reach. I could nail her 
poodle-permed head from here, if I wanted to, he pondered. 
However, he thought about the situation, and all he had at 
stake, and instead, left the Pepsi can, and ran to catch up with 

She'd reached the entrance to the Briar Patch by this 
time, and stood waiting. 

Denise glared at him. "Now come along with me, and 
DO NOT touch anything. God forbid your clumsy 
construction worker hands break something," she chided. 
"You did get your paycheck cashed yesterday, right?" she 

Matt felt for his wallet. "Yes, hon', I've got plenty of 
cash," he said. 


"Good, then go ahead and give me forty-five dollars for 
the cute little basket over there," he said. 

"Forty bucks for a basket of damn pillows?" he asked. 
"Those pillows better be filled with gold or something," he 

"Oh God," Denise sighed, as she furiously twisted a 
piece of her dark brown hair. She gave him the look that meant 
"You have absolutely no idea of what you are talking about," 
and spun around on her heel to take care of the necessary 

Matt looked around him; the salesclerk was peering at 
them over the cash register. He got out his wallet and handed 
her the entire wad of cash. 

"Here's two hundred and sixty-eight dollars. Why 
don't you go buy a matching rug or something," he said as he 
surrendered his week's pay. 

"Oh ha ha," she said. "Maybe if you'd pay more 
attention to our new house you'd know that I already bought a 
new rug when I bought the nursery furniture, dear. "Besides, 
we have to give one hundred seventy-five dollars to our 
wedding photographer on Monday, so we can't just blow 
money like you suggest." She picked up the forty-five dollar 
basket and marched to the counter. Matt walked out to the 
main corridor to wait on the benches by the fountain. 

He gazed into the bubbling water next to him and 
grinned. Denise can't swim. I wonder how deep this fountain 
is, he thought, as he dipped his hand in the cool clear water. It 
smelled like strong chlorine, just as the swimming pool had 
smelled the day he'd met Denise. 

Matt had shown up at the pool party with his friends 
Gary and David. He'd intended to catch a good tan, drink 
some beer, and have a good time. He hadn't intended to meet 
the girl of his dreams. Yet when Denise Emmons walked into 
the yard in her red bikini with a brilliant colored scarf wrapped 
around her hips, he knew he'd never seen a prettier girl. She 
was wearing red sandals to match her bathing suit, and her 
toenails were polished in a rosy shade to coordinate her entire 


look. Matt soaked in her every move and gesture, and after 
only minutes, he'd introduced himself. He fell deeper and 
deeper under her spell as they talked about school and friends. 
They sat on the steps in the shallow end of the pool, because 
Denise didn't want to get her hair wet. He learned months later 
that she really could not swim and had used her hair as an 
excuse. By the end of the evening the beautiful brunette had 
Matt twisted tightly around her finger as she teased him about 
his clumsy habits. 

"I like a man who isn't polished to a glossy shine. 
You're like a piece of clay just waiting to take shape," she'd 
said at the end of the evening as she petted his rough, calloused 

"Well, you can mold me any way you want, Denise," 
Matt had said as he smiled and drew her closer to him. They 
kissed the sweetest kiss, and now as Matt pulled his hand from 
the bubbling fountain water and rubbed his callouses, he 
thought about how sweet the kisses, the words, the touches, 
had been those five years ago. It had been so different then. 

He looked up at the skylight, wondering what could 
possibly be taking his fiancee so long in the store. The bright 
sunlight cleared his thoughts, and he saw the last five years 
with absolute clarity. Then he moved into the foggy thoughts 
of the last two months. It had been flying by so fast! He 
thought about the night at his parents' house when they were 
alone. He thought about the dismayed look on Denise' s face 
when she'd said, "Matt, I'm pregnant." Then he saw himself 
on one knee proposing to Denise, and she, looking only at the 
diamond on her finger as she said "Yes." His eyes watered a 
little, only a little, as he thought about the girl he'd fallen in 
love with. The babe in the red bikini. 

"HELLO!" The voice of his fiancee startled him back 
to reality. "Where are you, Matt? Earth to Matty!" she teased. 
He looked down from the skylight and met her eyes. 

"Why are your eyes watering, Matt?" she asked. 

"Oh, I was just thinking about somebody I used to 
know," he said without looking at her. 


She tossed her hair with a flip of her head and said, 
"Oh, probably some girl, huh?" He didn't answer her as he 
turned away and began walking. 

"Hey, wait up, you're not leaving me by myself, 
mister!" she cried. He stopped and waited as she quickly 
padded her way up to where he was standing. Matt looked 
down at her, hoping to see the girl in the red swimsuit, but 
instead found his fiancee's impatient blue eyes staring up at 

"Can we go now?" she asked. "You know we still 
have to go to House World to look for a kitchen sink faucet." 

"Of course, dear," he said looking at his shoes. 

"Look at me when you speak to me please, dear," she 
reminded. "Don't forget your manners." She walked on in 
front of him, as he trod along by himself. She reached the 
double doors again, and waited for him to try once again. This 
time he reached for the door and pushed, holding his breath. 
The door swung wide open, and Denise walked over the 
threshold. She almost made it all the way over, when the toe of 
her sandal caught on the tile. She lunged forward, tripped for 
about three steps, dropped the basket of pillows on the ground 
and fell. She landed on the pillows, and grunted with a loud 
"UMF!" She caught herself with her hands. Her long wavy 
hair had also been thrown forward and now covered her face. 
She did not move, but stayed in that position for a minute or 
two hiding behind her hair. Matt rushed over to her to help her 
to her feet. 

"Oh, God , Denise, are you ... is the baby ... are ya all 
right?" Matt said frantically. Denise was trembling from 
anger and humiliation. 

"Matthew Mahany! You tripped me! You made me 
fall!" she screamed as she threw his hands off her and rose by 

"No I didn't trip you, why would I trip you?" he asked. 

"I don't know, don't care, just pick up the pillows and 
get me . . . us, to the truck," she cried, as her face turned red. 


Once Matt had decided that everything was all right, he 
busily picked up the colored pillows and escorted his bride to 
the truck. He grinned slightly as he thought about Denise lying 
helpless on the floor in front of him. As he did, an older man 
with a big gray beard, who'd seen the whole event, grinned 
back as if to console him. 

"Welcome to prison," he whispered to him, once 
Denise was behind the closed truck door. 

"Huh?" questioned Matt, looking at the old man. 

"Don't forget once you're in, it's a life sentence," he 
advised, looking over his shoulder. Matt smiled politely at the 
old man. As he turned towards the truck he heard a woman 
yell, "Herbert, where are you? Get over here, I need some 
help!" Matt spun around to see the old man with the beard 
shuffling over to help his elderly wife carry some shopping 
bags. Matt smiled in the man's direction, and grimly turned 
back to Denise. 

He climbed in beside her, and started the truck. 

"Where to, warden?" he asked. She glared over at him. 

"Oh real funny, Matt. Just shut up and take me home," 
she said, looking down at her bloody knees. 

"You should be shot for letting me fall like that, Matt 
Mahany!" she said as she began to cry. 

"Why shoot me, Denise? I'm already serving a life 





Earth Shaking Vibrations 

The contractor measures paces 

around the foundation's outline 

with wooden stakes and balls of string; 
staying true to design. 

The white truck' s revolving belly 

spits out continuous cement, 

over mounds of shoveled, packed dirt 
to form a floor to rent. 

The two by four framework rises 

with rat-a-tat races. 
A trio of varied roof tops 

will designate inner spaces. 

As carpenters raise the main roof, 

planks stand straight and tall. 

Two triangular roofs now drop 
down in measured fall. 

A palm tree acts as sentinel, 

as final work is done. 
I see sunlit trees within 

the roofs wooden skeleton. 

Shirtless workmen lay shingles 

deftly with light footsteps. 

"OK if I take photos of your work?" 

"Sure," one answers, flexing biceps. 

Over morning coffee I ponder 

gaps in my myrtle screen 
which I must fill with oleander, 

so I remain unseen. 


The wild geese cackle overhead. 

Cardinal, jay, and wren 
have lost favorite perching places 

and nests to building men. 

As leaves and branches fly about, 

the birds scream and skitter; 
in air above the decimated ground 

is a haze of cluttered litter. 

I turn from the senseless man-made jumble 
to my garden for peace; and discover 

my fuchsia azaleas blooming in sequence, 
one after another. 

Rachel McReynolds Brown 

Spring Fever 

Siren cricket you are my foe 

crooning spring songs outside the window. 

Longing to drink the lively air, 

I sit inside and blankly stare 

at the assigned pages before me. 

Michael Walker 



Springtime: sweet-scented season . . . 
Bee Boys buzzing busily as 
Girl flowers blossom into beauty. 
I, King Bee, and she, Queen Clover, 
Made honey and it was magical. 

Summertime: hot and humid . . . 

Sweating, she seeks shade while 

I, tall strong oak 

Let her lie in my shadow 

to cool off and it was arrogant. 

Fall: crisp, colorful changes . . . 

Manly oaks lose their foliage as 

Womanly temperatures rise and fall. 

I, the oak, was bare to the world while 

she temperamentally controlled the day and it was unmerciful. 

Winter: long, cold, infertile season . . . 

I, the bear, hibernate — dormant 

in refuge from the cold while 

She, the game bird, migrates to warmth 

Away from home and it is seasonal. 

William B. Deaver, Jr. 



Leigh Calhoun 

I recall those paper-thin walls in the dormitory of my 
college years. They were painted with pale, mint green paint 
that was flaking off all above by my bed, revealing the putrid 
yellow underneath it. I would lie there at night, peeling the 
paint around where it had already started, and listen. She lived 
next door. I could hear her come in late every night, usually 
not alone. She was always giggling, giggling that incessant 
giggle that made me pick at the paint harder and harder. 
Sometimes I'd get that green paint stuck under my fingernail 
and flinch as it cut into my skin. And the moaning. I'd hear 
this deep, breathy moan, but not from her . . . just some 
nonresidential voice which varied on each occasion. Moan, 
giggle, moan, moan, giggle, on and on, piercing my ears, for 
hours. Then, finally, I would hear the springs of her bed stop 
squeaking and her door open. He'd go to the bathroom. I lived 
right across the hall from it, and would wait to hear the toilet 
flush. Seconds later, her door would slam shut. Silence. 

I didn't know her very well, only to say hello. She was 
one of those girls who whisked by your open door, waving in 
as she rushed off to whatever she did all day and all night . . . 
always in a hurry. Her appearance always perfect, makeup 
always on, and dressed like one of those fashion models I 
looked at in my magazines. I sometimes tried to see myself 
walking sprightly down the checkerboard tiled hall on the arm 
of some beautiful man who would sweep me into my room and 
throw me down, violating me, invading me, loving me. But 
my hair was boxed at my ears, and my iron remained tucked 
away in the back of my closet. 

I often think of her still. I try to recall what she was 
like before that agonizing month when the vivacity, the life 
was sucked out of her . . . sucked out of me. It all started one 
rainy Saturday. I was attempting to study for my Japanese 
exam but would periodically let my eyes roam aimlessly all 
over my room. I only had one window. I never closed it 


because of how stuffy it would get in that little cubicle I called 
home. The rain tapped lightly on the sill. My mother used to 
tell me that the raindrops were little ballerinas performing just 
for me. For some reason, that made me feel important then. I 
followed the green wall over to my dresser and was admiring 
the rotten plastic doll with movable limbs and frayed hair that I 
had picked up at a garage sale when I caught a glimpse of 
myself in the mirror. I was almost scared to stare at my chunky 
unsunned face with that ungodly haircut, but my eyes stuck. I 
could only see down to my shoulders, but God, what hulking 
shoulders! I didn't eat that much, but I could see every little 
bite I took. Oh well, I thought, some people just don't have 
that "Special K" figure. I knew I needed to study, but all these 
menial distractions .... 

"Only three more minutes," she said, obviously talking 
on the phone. She was always on the phone. 

"Yes, I know ... all right I said, I promise 

There was a long pause. I picked away at a peeling 

"One more minute ... are you sure these things work?" 

Another pause. Pick. Pick. 

"Thank God! ... see I told you, nothing to worry about 
. . . O.K." A laugh. "I'll call you this weekend. Tell everyone 
I said hello ... all right, bye-bye." 

I wondered what the hell she was talking about. I had 
made a yellow dinosaur on the wall, eating a clump of yellow 

"Oh shit! Oh shit!" she yelled. I heard some object 
bash into my wall and jerked away from the dinosaur. "Oh 

I didn't hear her anymore. She never went out, and she 
never came in. Her television stayed on twenty-four hours a 
day. I would hear her bed squeak once in a while . . . guess she 
was turning over. Every day or so she would come out to take 
a shower. No makeup and greasy hair. I listened intently all 
the time to find out what was going on, but she seemed 
relentless in her silence. Her phone would always ring twice, 


and then, "Hey, you reached my room, but I'm not talking. 
Just leave a message all right? Bye." Then a long beep. I now 
had a dominion of dinosaurs grazing on my wall . . . they 
listened, too. 

Weeks went by, as she stayed in her room. I knew she 
wasn't going to class. I knew. Three or four of her friends, at 
least I guess they were her friends, had knocked on her door. 
No answer. They'd wait about a minute, and then I'd hear their 
footsteps tapping down the tiled hallway. But from her room 
came nothing but that omnipresent noise out of her television. 
Jumbled words just low enough that I couldn't distinguish what 
show she was watching. I think she was starving. The few 
times she did leave her room, I'd hear her trudging back up the 
stairs rattling a bag of crackers from the vending machine 
downstairs. I thought maybe I'd call her one day and offer her 
dinner. After all, I was her neighbor. 

I waited for the answering machine to go through its 
monotonous message and then, "Hi, this is Jen next door and I 
was just wondering if you'd like dinner. Just knock on the wall 
if you would and I'll order out for both of us. Bye." 

I waited for the knock, as I sculpted out a bird high up 
on the wall. I listened to my clock ticking, ticking, ticking, 
until finally, a frail knock echoed through the hollow wall. I 
ordered out for pizza . . . pineapple and mushrooms. When it 
got there, I walked over to her room. I had never been inside 
before, and entered slowly, not knowing what I would see. 

It was dark. There was a small lamp in the corner with 
a sheet thrown over it, allowing only a glowing mass of cloth 
to be seen. It was a sickening hot with her window closed, but 
she was underneath a flannel blanket, bundled up to her neck. 
Only a slight picture of her face could be seen emerging from 
the bundle, flashing with sudden bursts of light radiating from 
the television screen, but I could tell she had dark circles under 
the eyes which seemed to sink back into her head. She was 
pale, and stared into a corner across the room, which was 
suffocated by a huge pile of dirty laundry. Her lips were 
slightly apart, leaving a small slit for her breath to come and 
go. Her hair had been pulled back with a rubber band, but limp 


strands hung into her face and around her ears. I could see her 
foot twitching under the cover, while the rest of her body 
remained motionless. It was the only sign of life I could find. 

"Why did you offer me dinner?" she asked, gazing 
firmly on the pile. 

"Well, I just get tired of eating alone sometimes, and, 
umm, well, I could hear your television on and thought ..." 

"And thought I'd been in my room for the past two 
weeks and needed something to eat?" she interjected with a 
sudden ominous glare straight through my eyes. 

"Well, I just thought..." 

"You let me tell you one thing, Jen, I'm no charity case 
and I don't need anything from you or anybody else. Do you 
hear me?" she screamed. "Now, you can just take your pizza 
and get out . . . I'm no charity," her voice lowering as she 
turned back to her study of the laundry. I picked up only a 
piece and left the rest with her. 

She was crying. The dinosaurs and I could hear her. 
Then I heard the bed squeak. I knew she was eating the pizza. 
I was glad, even if she had been a bitch. 

The television stopped early the next Saturday morning. 
It woke me up. I pressed my ear up against the dinosaur. I 
heard a zipper zip and seconds later the door open and close. I 
guessed she was going home for the weekend. My day was 
lonely. I thought about going for a walk, but I only made it to 
the vending machine downstairs, where I decided to try some 
of those crackers she always ate. I missed having her mystery 
on the other side of the wall. Even lost interest in the dinosaurs 
as they rounded over the desolate savanna of green. I had just 
settled down to take a nap when I heard those slow footsteps up 
the stairwell. I knew they were hers; I had grown accustomed 
to listening for them. Only they were much slower, with 
pauses after every two or three. Filled with interest. I rose to 
see if there was anything wrong. I peered out of my door, 
which was always open, to see a pathetic form of a girl 
hobbling to her door. I remained silent as I watched her 
fumbling for her keys in her jeans pocket. As she lifted her 


shirt out of the way, I could see that her button-fly jeans were 
undone halfway. How odd, I thought to myself. Intently trying 
to get into her room, she didn't see me standing there, fixated 
on her every move. She disappeared and gently closed the 
door behind her. 

I fell back on my bed, creating a new character on my 
wall, and listened. She was crying again. There was a 
squeaking of the bed that I hadn't heard before . . . almost as if 
she were rocking back and forth, back and forth. And it wasn't 
crying; she was sobbing ... a sobbing like I had never heard 
before. Almost like a hurt animal. It made me sick to listen. 
For the first time, I didn't want to listen. But, just like the 
television, she was relentless in annoying the hell out of me. 

"I did it," I heard her voice say over the phone. "Well, 
I told Joni and Blake ..." 

A long pause. Pick. Pick. 

"I had to tell someone. I can't go through this by 
myself . . . , " she said painfully over the phone. I could tell 
she had pulled the phone over to her bedside because her voice 
was nearer to the wall. The yellow clouds were now rolling 
overhead. "I'm glad to know that your reputation is all that 
you're concerned about." Her voice continued but was 
trampled by the idle chatter of people in the hallway. God, I 
thought, why don't they shut up? I can't hear! I ran and 
slammed my door, jumping back onto my bed and pushing my 
head through the yellow grass. 

"I loved you ..." The phone slammed. Sobbing. 

That was enough. I wanted to know exactly what was 
going on, and I wanted to know right then. I wanted to go over 
to her room and shake it out of her, shake out the sobbing. One 
of my dinosaurs turned into an old man with a walking stick. 
Her door opened. I heard her coughing as she struggled to the 
bathroom. I went out into the hallway to try to help, I guess, 
but almost ran into her. I'll never forget her face. It 
personified pain with every feature blank and empty. Her eyes 
were nearly swollen shut as she squinted to see me. Her lips 
were dry and pursed, holding the wet strain of mucus running 


from her nose. She was wearing a huge T-shirt which hung to 
her knees, a little shorter in front than in back. 

"Can I help you?" I asked shyly, my feet frozen to the 
floor, my eyes frozen to her face. 

"You can get, out of, my way," she said breathlessly. 
"Can't you see I'm sick?" 

I moved slowly out of her way as she pushed on toward 
the bathroom. I heard her heaving, dry heaving. The toilet 
flushed. God, if I had only known then. 

For the next four days, I stayed home. I didn't go to 
class. I was sucked into the wall, sucked into her. I listened to 
her moaning, the slow creaking of the springs, the television, 
the occasional opening of the door, and the indolent haunting 
shuffles of her socked feet as she passed by my door to the 
bathroom. Back and forth. Back and forth. Heaving. Peeing. 
Flushing. By day four, I was insane. My dinosaurs and the 
old man and the clouds and the birds were all gone. All I had 
was a huge blob of yellow, violating me, invading me. That 
horrible yellow. I could smell it and taste it. I even slept with 
it. The little flecks of paint were unbudgeable from my bed, 
dwelling permanently in my sheets. And if that wasn't enough, 
there were mountains being erected all underneath my bed, 
collecting from my artistic endeavors. It was thick, and 
coming from every direction like a disease. Knock . . . Knock. 

"Help me," she said softly with tears streaming down 
her face as she wrapped her arm around her waist. "I have to 
get, to go back, please." 

She looked up at me, and I saw her eyes again. She 
held out her other hand to me, holding a pamphlet with 
directions to the clinic. I reached inside and grabbed my keys 
from the dresser. I think she would have collapsed if I hadn't 
gotten underneath her arm and held her as we struggled down 
the stairs. It was only a forty-five minute drive, but the little 
yellow lines seemed to multiply in front of us on the idle 
Wednesday afternoon. 

"Why didn't you tell me?" I asked as I gazed at the road 


"I promised, I wouldn't, tell anybody," she said, 
pushing every syllable from her lungs. 

"I'm not anyone ... I'm your next door neighbor," I 
argued. There was no reply for countless yellow lines. 

"Thank you," she exhaled, finally. 

I can honestly say that I had never seen anything so 
pitiful in my whole life. This beautiful girl untouchable, so 

"Oh shit," she mumbled. I glanced over to see a red 
pool between her legs, on her legs, on her hand which she had 
put between them. She held her hand up in the air and stared at 
the blood, stared at her blood. 

"Oh my God, you're hemorrhaging," I cried as my foot 
instinctively pressed the accelerator to the floor. 

"Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit," she said, over and over and 
over, sobbing with heavy breaths, gasping for air. 

I'll never forget pulling up to the clinic and slamming 
on brakes. Her head jerked forward with an agonizing grunt of 
pain. I jumped out and screamed at a nurse taking a cigarette 
break outside the rear door. 

"Help us!" I cried. "She's bleeding!" 

I stared at my lap, holding a magazine, trying not to 
listen to the screams coming from the back. It was her. They 
would taper off and then come again in full force, tearing at my 
stomach, ripping at my throat. My foot tapped firmly at the 
country blue carpet. I flipped the pages rapidly just catching 
glimpses of colors and print. I thought of the yellow. I threw 
the magazine down and rushed to the front desk. 

"Let me in there!" I demanded. She needed someone, 
and I was all she had. 

"I'm sorry," the nurse said with an ignorant smile on 
her face. " Even family members are not allowed back during 
the procedure." 

"Procedure?" I questioned with my eyes squinting in 
bewilderment. "She's already had the procedure." 


"I'm sorry, but the procedure was incomplete." 

"Incomplete? How can you fuck up something like 
that! And why didn't you put her to sleep?" 

"I'm sorry, but the fee only covers one anesthetic," 
with that coddling look on her face. "Now, would you please 
take your seat. We'll call you as soon as you can go back. " 

I returned to my seat and waited. Stared out the 
window. Scratched at the varnish on my chair's arm. Tapped 
the carpet. Thought of the yellow. Her screaming had stopped. 
I watched as the doctor appeared at the front desk and handed 
the nurse a file. He leaned in to her and said something that I 
couldn't hear. She looked up from her work and said 
something into his cheek; they both looked in my direction. I 
grabbed both arms of my chair, stood straight, and walked 
toward him with my teeth clenched and my fists balled at my 

"Can I see her now?" 

"She's resting now," said the doctor. "She'll need you 
to help her get dressed in a few minutes. For now, I'm giving 
you her prescriptions. Please get them filled for her. She'll be 
in a lot of pain for the next forty-eight hours or so. 

"No more than she's been in for the past four days, you 
bastard," I said. I pushed him aside and walked back looking 
for her. She was lying in a dark room with wet rags across her 
forehead. Sobbing. Mumbling. I went to take her hand, but 
she flinched and strained her eyes to see me. 

"It's all right," I said, reaching for her hand again. 
"It's just me." 

"Hundred and three," she said. I assumed that meant 
her fever. 

"You're going to be all right now. They fixed it." 

"Held me down," she said in broken breaths, tears 
rolling onto the tissue paper covering the table. "Two nurses. 
Fat bitches." 

"I know, but you're OK now ... it's over." I tried to 
reassure her but could see I was doing no good. 


"They're coming back," she cried, her voice suddenly 
louder. "They're coming back!" 

"No, they're gone now. They're not going to hurt you 
anymore." There was a long pause as I listened to her heavy 
breathing as her gown, open down the front, gaped open and 
closed, open and closed. Her head was tilted slightly in my 
direction but she never looked at me. She was looking at 
nothing. Finally. 

"My baby," she whispered as she closed her eyes and 
squeezed her tears through her eyelashes. 

Her whisper haunts me still. 

The Calculating Mistress 

Jennifer Cohen 


Haunted Building 

Robert Trimm 



Isle of Hope 

Gabriele Hauck 




You Took a Part of Me 

Keith Langston 


Age to Age 

My life at times must yield its plan to age; 

To others in a curtsy I must bend. 

And I must read from someone else's page. 

In childhood I see elders take the stage: 
An older father, crippled aunt to tend; 
My life at times must yield its plan to age. 

To move a table, chest or bed I wage 
A losing war — no change can I defend, 
And I must read from someone else's page. 

Grown, a tangled vacuum cord brings rage 
As by my tiny children's cries I'm penned; 
My life at times must yield its plan to age. 

As children leave, my parent I engage 
Returning: no time for lunch with husband-friend; 
And I must read from someone else's page. 

When I am old I must myself assuage 
As I on children's arms or minds depend. 
My life at times must yield its plan to age, 
And I must read from someone else's page. 

Jean O. Hattle 


From "A Forgotten Year" 
November, 1993 

The stars are dirty, like the air, 

In the gentle blowing stink 

Which fills the highways, 

Interstates, back-lanes of garbage-lined walls, 

Sidewalks and by-ways, 

Merge lanes . . . 

And all he wants is a bite to eat, 

A scalding shower 

And the change from the fat, leather purse 

Under the arm of some disdainful bitch. 

'They don't even look at me 

As they tell me 'No.' 

Just walk on by, 

As would I 

Were I in golden boots." 

Forrest Jackson 


December 22 

The memories of madmen remain 

fingerpainted down the walls of history, 

dribbling globs of clotted red 

and bruised, murky purple. 

The serpent in the garden has built wax wings 

and constructed a plan for escape 

despite Simian chattering, 

frantic from the trees, 

bemoaning the impossibility of flight. 

Disappointed to learn that Quetzalcoatl 

was just a jailbreak, 

Mankind sheds its eyecaps of stone 

only to grow new ones of steel 

and scuttles like a cunning little lizard 

through the fingers of God. 

Shawna Silverman 



Shawn Kelshaw 


Pepsi-Cola Hits the Spot 

Thomas Manchester 

I began practicing ophthalmology in Atlanta in 1952, 
when I became the assistant to an eye physician, Dr. Ferdinand 
Phinizy Calhoun, and his son, Dr. Phinizy Calhoun, Jr. Most 
of the time I merely performed preliminary examinations on 
the patients, then instilled eyedrops to dilate the pupils for the 
older doctors. They were popular and stayed busy examining 
normal patients. They had no time for weird cases; those 
cases were referred to me. 

One sweltering June day, the electric fan humming 
back and forth on my desk had nearly put me to sleep. 
Marilyn, starched and sterile, stepped into my cubicle and 
announced, "Dr. Manchester, this woman doesn't make 

At last, maybe I had a patient of my own. So far that 
day, the only thing which I had examined was my fingernails. 

I put down my pipe and picked up the telephone, then 
cleared my throat and spoke in my most professional voice, 
"Good morning, I am Dr. Manchester. May I help you?" 

For a long time there was no answer to my query. 
Finally, a woman's voice answered haltingly. "He thinks he 
can see. He wants you goddamned doctors out here." 

My poise was quickly dissolved. "Who is this you are 
talking about, please?" 

"Oh, uh, hell, it's John. John Wingfield." That is all 
she said, and then I could hear someone walking away from the 
telephone. The line was silent. 

Marilyn, on her own initiative, always monitored my 
telephone conversations, and in a matter of seconds she handed 
me the record of a patient named John Wingfield, Ph.D. I 
studied it with interest. 

Dr. Wingfield had been examined two years previously, 
and was nearly blind at that time because of cataracts. He had 
refused to undergo cataract surgery because he was a Christian 
Scientist. He was eighty-two, and a stroke had left him in a 


wheelchair. Someone had written on his chart: "This poor 
man might be less of a Christian Scientist and more of a realist 
if his wife weren't there at his side all the time. She waits on 
him hand and foot. He has little motivation for undergoing an 

"Who in the world was that woman we talked to?" I 

It was uncanny how Marilyn seemed to remember all of 
the patients and their families. She had been with Dr. Calhoun 
for twenty-three years. "I'll bet she is Mrs. Wingfield. Her 
voice sounded familiar, but that language! I sure don't 
remember that." Then without further ado, Marilyn turned 
about-face, and went to fetch my shiny new doctor's bag. 

I thanked Marilyn, and she promised to explain to my 
associates about the necessity for me to make a house call. I 
held my head high as I walked to the elevator. I reached the 
ground floor and strolled to my yellow convertible 
Volkswagen, swinging my doctor's bag at my side. The sun 
was setting as I drove to Brookwood Hills. The address was 
#30 Parkview Drive. There was not a cloud in the sky. 

It was an established residential neighborhood with 
sidewalks and bent hundred-year-old willow oaks lining the 
streets. The house number was on the mailbox, which tilted 
slightly. It was a two-story cold, gray stone house. I pulled 
up in the driveway, then took a minute to relight my pipe and 
to smooth down my mustache. Mother had told me that 
certain things would make me look older and more mature. I 
appraised my image in the rearview mirror, then picked up my 
bag, got out of the car, and walked up the front walk humming 
"Love Me Tender." 

There was a big mossy tree branch which had fallen 
across the front steps. I jumped over it and went up the steps 
two at a time. On the dark door was the head of a griffin 
adorning the knocker. I grasped it, then raised the heavy thing 
and let it fall. The loud noise seemed to echo among the trees 
of the quiet neighborhood, and I stepped back in surprise. 


I paced and looked up at the windows as I waited and 
waited. The house looked dark inside. 

Finally, someone released the locks and seemed to pull 
on the door a long time before it became unstuck and swung 
back. I was wearing my most intelligent professional 
expression, but I lost my composure and probably showed it 
when I looked at the woman who confronted me. Her small 
thin body was outlined against the shadowy interior of the 
house. Her stockings hung down around her ankles; her hair 
was disheveled and clotted in places. She had the open mouth 
and stunned expression I had seen on the faces of patients with 
senile psychosis when I was in medical school. A sickening 
odor brought to mind memories of terminal disease, gangrene, 
or cachexia. 

She stared at me and said only four words: "Shit. He's 
back there." 

Then she turned and walked away. 

One light bulb shone from back in the house 
somewhere. There was dust all over, and stacks of old 
newspapers in such abundance that there was hardly space to 
walk around. There were three cats underfoot, and a bowl of 
cat food, which had spilled over onto the rug. I searched 
around in the semi-darkness, hoping not to step in any feces. I 
found my patient in a wheelchair, sitting in a dark corner, and 
facing a wall. 

"Is that you, doctor?" he said. "I appreciate so much 
your coming this afternoon." I turned his wheelchair around 
and he stretched his hand out toward my voice, as I swallowed 
and said, "Yes, it's me. Dr. Calhoun asked me to come." He 
shook my hand. "You came up on my blind side." Then he 
smiled and turned to look at me with his right eye. "It's a 
miracle! I can see again." His face was pale and there was an 
open wound across his right temple about five centimeters 
long. There was dried blood all over the side of his face and 
down his shirt. The most remarkable thing to me was the 
appearance of his eyes. 


The left eye was chalky and expressionless. It looked 
as if it had been marbleized. Its pupil was dilated and the lens 
behind it was opaque. The difference in the two eyes was 
surprising. The right eye, beneath the ugly wound in the 
temple, was bright and shiny. The cornea was clear and the 
pupil was entirely free of any cataract! I sat down on a stack of 
newspapers and asked the patient to tell me what happened. 
His wife was nowhere in sight. 

"Emily is embarrassed about this. She doesn't tolerate 
having nurses around. So, as a consequence, she's had to do 
everything for me, night and day. For some time now, I've 
been so blind that I could only see light. And now this miracle 
has come." 

He clutched the wheelchair with his trembling hands, 
leaned forward, and whispered. "Emily has become very 
fractious, and quick to anger. When I asked her to check the 
stove this morning, she flared up and said it was goddamn all 
the way turned off. I insisted that I could smell the gas, and 
she cursed again, and threw a bottle at me. Doctor, let me 
assure you that this is so unlike Emily. She is the sweetest most 
gentle person in the whole world. But lately, she's just not 
been herself." 

"That's a nasty wound in your temple," I said. "Is that 
where it struck you?" 

"Yes. But the most amazing thing happened! My 
vision became better immediately! I can see again! Not well, 
of course, but with this right eye, I can count my fingers and I 
can tell colors. It's like a miracle all right." 

I cleaned the wound and applied a bandage to Dr. 
Wingfield's temple. Next I examined his eyes thoroughly and 
found that the cataract in the right eye had been dislocated 
from its normal position behind the pupil. It was floating 
freely back in the vitreous, and it looked like a shirt button as 
it drifted down below the line of sight deep inside the eye. It 
moved each time the eye moved. 

I rested my hand on his shoulder. "It's a miracle. 
Your wife did you a big favor when she threw that bottle. The 


blow to your temple jarred the cataract back out of the way of 
your pupil, and the effect resembles what happens when 
surgery has been performed and the cataract has been 

"I understand exactly what happened now," said the 
patient. "I have read quite a bit about cataracts. That is, in the 
good old days, when I read all the time." 

"I'll have a pleasant surprise for you tomorrow," I said, 
"if you will come to my office. It will seem like a second 

He shook his head slowly. "My wife has not been well, 
and with me in this wheelchair, it's just impossible to get 
down to your office. If I come in an ambulance, she might be 
left here at the house alone." 

I explained that I could arrange for them both to come 
by ambulance. He would have to lie on a stretcher, and his 
wife could be there at his side for the whole trip. This would 
be very easy and pleasant. I asked him if he thought that Mrs. 
Wingfield would be willing to cooperate, and come along with 

"She will come, I am sure," he said. He did not 
hesitate. "She always does exactly what I tell her to do." 

What could I say? I hoped that he was right. 

Dr. and Mrs. Wingfield arrived at Dr. Calhoun's office 
at eleven the next morning. Dr. Wingfield had on a coat and 
tie, and looked presentable, except for many stains on his 
clothing. They both reeked of spoiled food and improper 

Mrs. Wingfield was wearing the same disreputable 
clothing she had worn the day before. She was also wearing 
the same familiar, shocked, stupid expression which had 
impressed me then. She showed no recognition when she 
stared at me. She said nothing as she stood beside her husband 
and held his hand. She would not even let go or move out of 
the way when an assistant came to prop him up in a sitting 
position on the stretcher. 


As I examined the eyes I explained the situation. 
"Normally there is a clear lens in the pupil to focus things on 
the retina. When that lens becomes cloudy, we call it a 
cataract. I am sure that you know all of this." 

He agreed, so I continued. "A hundred years ago, 
surgeons used a flat knife, and went inside the eye, and pushed 
the cloudy lens backward out of the pupil. The end result 
resembled your right eye. Now, all you need is a strong lens in 
your spectacles to take the place of that dislocated lens. These 
cataract glasses have to be very strong to do the focusing," I 
said as I placed a pair of heavy trial spectacles on Dr. 
Wingfield's face. 

"My God," he said, "I see clearly ! Even that bottom 
line on the chart!" 

He smiled at Mrs. Wingfield. "You see, Emily, I told 
you everything would be all right!" Her face was happy for a 
moment maybe, and then her blank expression took over 

Dr. Wingfield wore the temporary spectacles when he 
rode home in the ambulance. His wife sat at his side and 
clutched his hand when we saw them off. 

A week later I went by the optician's and picked up the 
new permanent glasses for Dr. Wingfield. The sun was high 
on a Saturday morning when I drove back to #30 Park View 
drive. The mailbox was straight, and the big tree limb was 
gone. The grass had been cut and the walk edged. I moved the 
griffin knocker gently and the door swung wide. 

There to greet me was Dr. Wingfield in his wheelchair. 
The stacks of newspapers were gone, as was all the dirt and 
dust, and the cats. I smelled vegetable soup cooking in the 
kitchen and heard the radio going. The radio announcer was 
advertising some kind of hair straightener. All the lights were 
on. I shook his hand, entered, and took a seat. 

Dr. Wingfield opened the box, removed the new 
glasses, and put them on. As he returned the temporary 
glasses to me he said, "I am indeed grateful to you, doctor. 
The colors are all so vivid and I can read everything. I think 


that I can even see that dislocated cataract as it floats around 
back there like a big gray balloon." 

A moment later his voice broke. "Emily is still not 
well, of course, but we may soon start going back to church 

And there was Emily. She took no notice of us. She 
was standing in the bedroom with her back to us, and she 
never left her place. Her head was tilted to one side, and her 
right hand rested on her hip. She stared into an open coat 
closet, as if trying to find something which had been lost. 

On the way home I drove a little slower. That night I 
went upstairs and shaved off the silly mustache. 





Variations on Raku and Stoneware 

Phil Kandel 



i piccioni 

Jennifer Cohen 


Blue Wicker Basket 

At her first weekly bridge game 
after a son is born, he 
is there, held up to his 
mother's ample breast. 

The next week when he is 
fussy in wicker 
basket beside her, 
she unhooks her bra. 

Week three he gurgles inside 
wicker basket, but soon in tears. 
Guest arrives saying, "He's still 
hooked up to his supply of milk." 

Before the following game, 
she gives formula milk 
to bridge nursing and 
get herself off the hook. 

On fifth week, baby has his own 
bottle of milk in blue wicker basket, 
while mother adjusts glasses 
on bridge of nose playing to win. 

Rachel McReynolds Brown 


Spots and Stripes . . . Forever? 

Setona Page 




Teresa Larsen 



Mary E. O'Sako 

Marilyn sat stiffly between her two younger brothers in 
the backseat of their father's new car. She was glaring out the 
window, not really seeing the trees that flashed by, waving 
their autumn leaves like bright flags of caution. She was 
waiting for Ben, her youngest brother, to venture onto her side 
of the soft gray seat just one more time so she could jab him a 
good one. Teach the little snot for taking my window seat, she 
thought smugly. 

Ben leaned over just then, but not into her territory. 
Not yet. He discovered the shiny new window button and 
proceeded to press it back and forth, back and forth. The 
electric whine of the window in its stunted cycle of rise and fall 
made her shiver. 

"Stop it, stupid," she hissed through clenched teeth. 
Ben stuck out his tongue and went on pressing. Back and 
forth, back and forth. Finally he managed to lean towards her 
just a little. It was just enough. Marilyn then shoved her 
skinny twelve-year-old elbow into his ribs. She pursed her lips 
in a tiny smile at the squeal he produced. Ben looked at her 
tearfully, then opened his mouth wide for the howl that 
Marilyn realized would soon escape. She gave him her fiercest 
"keep quiet or else" look, just as their father raised his head to 
peer at them through the haze of his smoke in the rearview 

"What's up?" he asked hoarsely. 

"Just Marilyn havin' one of her slobberin' fits, Dad! " 
crowed Greg, the oldest of the boys. Marilyn turned her head 
slowly. Up until now she'd thought him asleep beside her, but 
there he sat in all his tattletale glory. He was covering his 
mouth with one pudgy hand, while he feigned laughter, and 
pointed with the other. 

"Putty-face." She leaned over and mouthed the words 
into his face, her eyes narrowed to slits. "Just you wait, I'm 


really gonna get you, you Daddy's boy!" She kicked his leg 
for emphasis. 

"Ow ... Dad! 4 ' 

"Knock it off back there!" their father's voice cut in, 
"and quit with the windows. I don't want 'em broken before 
they're paid for!" He exhaled a deep noisy cough along with 
the last of his tenth cigarette that afternoon. Its smoke curled 
unimportantly around them, a gauze over the sudden quiet. A 
manicured hand appeared, its glossy pink tips pressing into the 
top of the seat in front of them. His girlfriend pulled herself 
around to face them. She patted her fussy red head and smiled. 

"You guys want some ice cream?" Her nasal Cleveland 
accent was heavy on the cream. 

The boys immediately sang out their affirmatives like a 
bad choir. Marilyn frowned and said nothing. 

Too cold for ice cream, dummy, she thought, 
clicking her tongue as hard as she could. Its sound was lost in 
her brother's uproar, and unnoticed by her father's girlfriend, 
who'd returned to the front seat Netherlands. Say no, Dad, say 
no, say no, Marilyn chanted silently. 

"Fine," their father muttered, shaking out another 
cigarette with his free hand. Fine, thought Marilyn, kicking 
her foot against the back of the spotless seat. Not only did the 
little boogers get to go on a trip to IOWA that summer while 
SHE sat home, they get ice cream and everything else they 
want, too! 

They drove on through the gray October afternoon, 
their destination sealed. Marilyn shunned everyone, arms and 
legs folded into herself. She pretended not to hear their ice 
cream babble as her eyes bored holes into the back of her 
father's head. She willed him to look into his mirror and see 
her unhappy reflection. Maybe then he would change his 
mind. She sighed and rubbed impatiently at a tear that snuck 
down her cheek when she saw the sign of the ice cream parlor 
come into view. 

Happy's was a small ice cream parlor. It was situated 
on the outskirts of town and open all year round for 


convenience. Someone had painted pink and green flowers on 
its white brick exterior in a less than superb attempt to make it 
cheerful. Inside, the old walls were painted in pink and white 
stripes and littered with gaudy posters of ice cream. 

After they filed in through the smudged glass doors, 
Marilyn stalked past the chrome counters that lined one wall, 
ignoring the frosty aromas that threatened to arouse her 
appetite. She flopped into one of the cracked red vinyl chairs 
that crowded the floor, while her brothers rushed the sleepy- 
eyed young clerk with their orders. She watched her father and 
his girlfriend standing at the counter with their arms around 
each other. They were oblivious to her stares. Marilyn could 
remember when he'd held her mother like that. It seemed like 
a long time ago to her, before Ben was even born. That was 
when they'd all lived in the big house over on Johnson Square. 
Soon after Ben came along he never seemed to be around 
much. His days at work grew longer, and when he was home 
there always seemed to be a lot of yelling in the house. 

'Thanks, Dad!" Greg and Ben shouted simultaneously, 
snatching up their ice cream cones and searching noisily for the 
perfect seat. Marilyn raised her chin firmly; she wouldn't eat 
a thing from this place. She would wait until she got home. 
Home. She thought of her mother, who had been starting a 
batch of cookies when their father had picked them up that 
afternoon. Standing in their tiny, messy kitchen, she'd yelled 
out good-bye to them while she mixed the dough furiously, her 
ample arms jiggling with the effort. 

"Cheers," her father said suddenly. He placed a cup of 
vanilla ice cream before her, a glob of thick black chocolate 
congealing on its crown. She could hear her brothers giggling 
close by as her father and his girlfriend sat down across from 
her. He fished a fresh cigarette from his pocket and lit it, 
squinting at her through the fresh smoke. 

"Everything okay at home?" he asked, shaking out the 
match with one hand. Its sharp sulfur smell spread out 


"Of course," Marilyn answered, rolling her eyes as she 
spoke. She could feel them watching her. Squirming in her 
seat, she searched the walls until she located a clock. It was 
after 4:00 p.m. 

"Mom wanted us home by 5:00." 

Her father nodded his answer nonchalantly, smoking 
quietly while his girlfriend picked daintily at her yogurt and 
smiled her best cheerleader smile. 

"Your brothers and I had a long talk in Iowa. They 
mentioned that things are kinda rough at home," he said, 
exhaling an endless stream of smoke through his nostrils. 
"What do you say, Marilyn, are things okay with your mother 
and all?" He fumbled with his cigarette case. 

"I said of course," Marilyn answered quickly. She 
scowled and churned at her ice cream, turning it into a gooey 
mess. A chair crashed to the floor from somewhere in her 
brothers' vicinity. Its echo was stark against the nearly empty 

"All right, all right, time to go!" their father declared 
with a shrug. He ground his cigarette into a tin ashtray while 
his girlfriend reapplied her lipstick carefully. Marilyn made a 
hasty dash for the door. 

All claims to her window seat were lost again, despite 
the fact that she'd beaten everyone to it. She'd even pushed 
Greg and Ben aside in the process, knocking Ben to the 
ground and diving headfirst into the backseat where she locked 
the door to secure her prize. When her father heard Ben's cries 
of defeat, he insisted that Marilyn relinquish "right now or 
else," forcing Marilyn to sit between her two brothers once 
more. She sat smoldering in silence under this yoke of "being 
the oldest" and "knowing better." She remained silent until 
the car cruised into the driveway of the faded green townhouse 
she and her brothers shared with their mother. She leapt for the 
door before the car bounced to a full stop on the potholed 
pavement. Her brothers leaned back in their seats and 
clamored to stay. 


Their father reached out and touched her arm for the 
first time that day, for the first time in awhile. 

"Marilyn," he began solemnly, clearing his throat, "try 
to be a little nicer to your little brothers ..." 

"I am always nice!" 

"You know what I mean!" 

Marilyn pulled her arm away and pushed at the door, 
ignoring Ben's indignant squeak as she leaned heavily over 

"Marilyn, did you hear me?" her father asked firmly. 
"Don't go mentioning our talk to your mother; she wouldn't 
like it . . . Marilyn?" 

"Okay, okay." Marilyn gave him a tight-lipped grin 
and pretended not to hear his girlfriend's "Bye-bye, sweetie." 
She climbed out into the waning afternoon. Her back to the 
purring car, she marched straight for the back door, kicking at 
the harmless brown leaves, plowing ruthlessly — Hurricane 

Inside, she slammed the scuffed kitchen door behind 

"Mom! Havel got a lot to tell you!" shouted Marilyn. 

Lingering odors of meals past mixed uncomfortably 
with the newer more pungent smell of burnt cookie dough in 
the stuffy air of the kitchen. Her nostrils began to quiver as she 
made her way through the darkened room, picking a trail 
through the shards of broken cookies strewn about the worn 
yellow linoleum. She tried to swallow and force back the tiny 
dry lump growing in her throat. 

"Mom?" she whispered, stopping at the threshold of 
the darker living room. 

"Well?" Her mother's voice pierced the gloom nearby. 
Marilyn's eyes adjusted quickly to the outline of her mother's 
bulk. She sat on the sofa just inside the doorway, beside the 
spot where Marilyn stood. Marilyn could make out the soiled 
dishes at her mother's feet, the open beer in her hand. Her 
head was tilted forward and she leered at Marilyn through half- 
lidded eyes. Marilyn's throat tightened even further. She 


recognized those eyes immediately. They were the eyes of the 
monster who only came out during the "ugly times," and the 
only light that burned in them was one of contempt for the 

"What . . . well, WHAT!" Her mother's voice 
escalated as if it would erupt. 

Marilyn's heart skipped. She immediately recited a full 
account of their afternoon, their drive, their talk. Her voice 
trembled conspicuously in the waiting stillness. Squeezing her 
hands tightly, she shut her father's parting words of warning 
from her mind. She thought instead of his girlfriend's grinning 
face as she was forced to forfeit her seat, in fact her whole 
summer, to her brothers. 

As she finished, she waited painfully, frozen in front 
of her mother like a young animal paralyzed by the headlights 
of an oncoming car. 

"What else did he say?" her mother snarled, the sour 
smell of beer rising strong and hard between them. 

"That's all, Mom . . . ," Marilyn stammered. The 
lump was back, and it was growing and squeezing even harder 
at her throat. She tried swallowing again, but found she was 
too weak to dislodge it. It had grown too large for her to 
handle. Her mother shifted her weight forward to the edge of 
the groaning sofa. Viciously she kicked the plate across the 
bare wooden floor, never taking her eyes from Marilyn's face. 

The back door slammed again, issuing forth a stream 
of colder air through the apartment. Riding on its current came 
the unsuspecting chatter of the boys who'd crashed merrily into 
the dark kitchen. Their flick of the light switch revealed a hint 
of their peril. They grew quieter, whispering over the small 
crunching sounds their feet made on the baked remnants that 
carpeted the floor. A streak of light illuminated their mother' s 
face, now focused mercilessly on the boys. They stopped in 
their tracks. 

"C'mere," she growled. 

The boys inched forward, clinging fast to each other, 
their faces white. 


"What, Mommy?" 

Marilyn backed slowly into the dark corner behind her, 
away from their whimpering forms as they neared the sofa. 

"C'mon you little traitors, bastards all of ya . . . 
BASTARDS!!" their mother screamed. Marilyn squatted 
down. She thought she could smell her brothers' fear; it was 
as thick as her own, as thick as the outside air that still clung 
like fallen leaves to their clothing. Ben buckled against Greg, 
a dark stain appearing, then growing down the length of his 
trousers, forming a tiny pool around his foot. Their mother rose 
unevenly to her feet, pulling the length of black electric cord 
from beneath her flattened cushion. Her beer can clattered to 
the floor, its foamy contents spreading, then mixing with the 
growing puddle beneath the boys. 

Greg and Ben fell back, pleading frantically. "Please, 
Mom . . . don't, PLEASE!" Their cries rose to shrieks as the 
cord began to fall. Marilyn covered her ears. Please, stop, 
stop, stop, stop . . . her mind raced along with her heart while 
their mother swung relentlessly at the upraised arms and legs of 
the boys. Every stinging connection of wire and tender flesh 
turned her brothers' screams into something animal-like in 
their agony. They seemed only to lend fuel to their mother's 
rage. Her arm swung higher and faster, higher and faster. 
Endlessly. Marilyn bit into her hand and thought of their 
father. Was he still outside? I could run for the door . . . then 
what? She closed her eyes. 

Finally, their mother swung so wide that she lost her 
balance, her feet sliding over the slick mess on the floor. She 
fell back into the sofa. She fell hard, shaking the room, a sharp 
snap sounding from deep inside the frame of the sofa, or 
somewhere. The sound of something that is really and finally 
— broken. Her brothers' fearful sobs mingled with Marilyn's 
silent ones. 

Marilyn opened her eyes slowly. She could see Ben 
and Greg curled up against each other, like puppies trying to 
keep warm. Their mother sat up again suddenly and gathered 


the cord for a final swing. Grunting, she flung it across the 
room, where it fell, now harmless, behind a chair. 

"Get to bed," she said breathlessly. The fight was gone 
from her voice, the menace from her eyes. Ben and Greg 
scurried for the stairs. Marilyn could hear them scuffle softly 
about overhead. She rose to her feet as her mother shifted 
again, then waited. She could hear her mother's ragged 
weeping and noticed for the first time the scent of her cologne, 
Lily of the Valley. Had it been there the whole time? Its scent 
grew and overpowered that of the beer, the urine, the fear. 
Marilyn stepped cautiously from her corner and into the light. 
The monster was gone, there would be no more beatings this 

Marilyn slipped into the kitchen and retrieved another 
can of beer, which she presented soberly to her mother, who 
accepted it automatically, almost humbly, her reddened eyes 
vacant. She was retreating into her "other place," leaving 
Marilyn and the boys alone at the scene of destruction. 

Marilyn returned to the kitchen, sweeping a quiet path 
through the litter. She assembled a tray for the boys. 
Sandwiches, some chocolate kisses, and the last apple in the 
house, peeled and cut carefully into equal halves. Two cups of 
milk and she was on her way. She carried this up to their 
room, knocking before she entered. They rustled under their 
covers as she entered, hiding their small pale faces from her. 
She set the tray gingerly before them. 

"It's okay now, she's asleep," Marilyn offered gently. 
Ben hiccuped, fresh tears welling up. 

"It's gonna be all right Bennie, shhhh . . .," Greg 
whispered. He put his hand awkwardly on Ben's shoulder. 
Marilyn winced at the sight of the long, bloody welt across his 

"Let me see, Greg?" She held out her hand anxiously. 

"No! Just leave us alone." Greg pulled the blanket 
closer, more protectively as Ben's sobs rose accusingly around 
her. He sat and watched warily until she left. 


Closing their door, she retreated to her room. Her 
room. All pink and neat. "The cleanest room in the house," 
their mother used to brag. She thought of the small room her 
brothers shared. Their clothing and toys were always stuffed 
and scattered about. Even when they had tried to straighten it 
out, their mother often screamed at them about it. Marilyn 
would only snicker at their pleas for help. 

Sighing deeply, she gazed out the window where she 
could see the trees waving their leaves sadly in the night. A 
familiar form tugged at the edge of her vision. Charlie Bear sat 
on her pillow, grinning proudly, his creamy white belly 
puffed out. It had been the last present her father had given her 
before he'd left them. She had yelled at Bennie so many times 
for sneaking in here and playing with him. Marilyn stared 
thoughtfully for a few moments before she finally gathered him 
into her arms and left the room, closing the door behind her. 



Birds of the Weather 

I am one of four and we are all alike; 
Our pewter bodies of one mold 
Shine as silver carvings in the light. 

My life hangs by a thread, suspended with the rest, 

All tied up in knots we cannot see 

To a common circle overhead — 
A merry-not-go-round. 

We only move as metal marionettes, 

Mastered not by hands but by the wind. 

When it is still, we float in file and keep a perfect rank; 

Contact only comes when we are swept 

To collisions, hard or soft, but painless, 
Of beaks and backs and wings all aimless. 

We cannot fly but only swing to meet. 

I often have a song but cannot call to give 
Voice to the air or noise to the wind. 

I can dance an airy step, swaying side to side 
But cannot do a twirl or doe-se-doe. 

I am not chilled by rain or cold; 

I'm never ill or old. 
I have no plans but play in peace with all. 
I cannot leave the seasons so the seasons come to me; 
I stay north for winter and I summer in the south. 


My companions view the yard and woods beyond 
But I the kitchen window and the porch. 

With stirring air we play the gentle jingle of triangles; 

In high, rough winds we chatter harsh staccato. 

In a steady breeze I reach my prime, 

My graceful time, our purest rhyme, 

For then we chime — as bells, together — 
Not to tell the hour but the weather. 

Jean O. Hattle 

Moonlight Series No.l 

Teresa Anderson 


Free to Be 

Ellen Loe Frazier 



Theresa Anderson is a junior studying art who wants to 
pursue a career in commercial art. 

Rachel McReynolds Brown is a practicing artist and teacher 
who likes to design concrete images with paint and words. 

Jamie Burchett is a senior working on a degree in English. 
She would like to teach at the high school level. 

Leigh Calhoun is a senior working on a degree in English 
communications. She currently has plans to become a 
journalist. "But," she says, "who knows?" 

Jennifer Cohen is a senior working toward a dual degree in art 
and criminal justice. 

William Deaver is a Spanish instructor at Armstrong. He 
majored in English as an undergraduate and says that he would 
like to reach the point where others study his poetry. 

Ellen Loe Frazier is a senior in the art department who is 
looking forward to graduate school to further her studies in 
photography. She would like to teach at the college level while 
continuing to paint and publish fine art photos. 

Jean O. Hattle is a wife, mother, grandmother, a Latin teacher 
who attended Armstrong for re-certification. "I write 
everyday," she says. "If I don't, it's like something's missing." 

Gabriele Hauck arrived here from Germany in 1992. Now in 
her senior year, she is a general studies major with a minor in 
economics. She is the 1995 winner of the President's Cup 


Cindy Intorre is a junior in the art department. She is aiming 
towards a doctoral degree and would like to become a 
successful freelance artist and photographer. 

Forrest Jackson is a junior majoring in English. His ultimate 
goal is to live on a sailboat and be a writer. 

Phil Kandel is a sophomore in the art education program. He 
wants to earn an MFA and teach at the college level. 

Shawn Kelshaw is a junior and an art illustration major. 

Keith Langston is in his sophomore year and intends to pursue 
a career in art. 

Teresa Larsen is a middle grade education major (concentra- 
tion in science and history) in her senior year. She wants to 
become fluent in Spanish in order to teach ESL students. 

Tom Manchester practiced ophthalmology for thirty-five 
years, first at Johns Hopkins, then at Emory University . He 
attended Armstrong in order to take a fiction writing course. 

Stacy McClain (No information available) 

Les Mosley is a sophomore considering a degree in English 
communications. He plans to manifest himself in the mysteries 
of life. 

Bobby Myers is a junior working on a degree in psychology 
with a minor in criminal justice. He is considering a career in 
forensic psychology. 

Mary O'Sako is a junior in the biology department. Her goal 
is to teach at the college level and to write. 


Setona Page is a senior majoring in art. She looks forward to 
furthering her education in graduate school and she wants to 

Susan Parker graduated from Armstrong in 1994 with a 
degree in English. Once in graduate school, she will 
concentrate on either Early American or Victorian Literature. 
"Show," she advises, "don't tell." 

Sherri Ralph is in her junior year as an art education major, 
and plans to teach. 

Patricia Saunders, a sophomore, has a double major, in 
biology and pre-med. "When I grow up," she says, "I hope I 
don't lose my imagination." 

Shawna Silverman, a sophmore in the history department, has 
as one of her future goals the Herculean task of "raising 
sarcasm to a fine art form." 

Ramona Michelle Singleton is a senior working on a degree 
in art education. 

Doug Spinks is a senior working on a degree in psychology, 
and plans to enter Georgia Southern University in the fall of 

Robert Trimm, a senior, is a photography major. He plans to 
pursue graduate studies at Savannah College of Art and 
Design. He likes "to take ordinary scenes and make them 

Michael Walker is a senior working on a degree in history. 
He plans to go on to law school. 




4L*0*** O 


The Jester 

Micheal Torrance 



Tiffanie L.C. Rogers 

Associate Editors 

Samone Joyner-Bell 
Robert Rees 

Art Editor 

Micheal R. Torrance 

Associate Art Editor 

Phillip Kandel 

Faculty Advisor 

Dr. James M. Smith, Jr. 

Calliope is published annually in the Spring by and for the 
students of Armstrong State College. Editors give student works 
first priority, but also accept submissions by faculty and staff. 
Consideration is given to work done in all disciplines. 

Submissions are accepted throughout Fall and Winter 
quarters, and should be placed in Calliope collection boxes or 
mailed to Calliope, Hawes Annex #3, Armstrong State College, 
11935 Abercorn Street, Savannah, Georgia, 31419-1997. 

The faculty advisor selects the Lillian Spencer Award for 
best poem and best prose piece. 

Mr. Tom Cato, of the Fine Arts Department, chose the 
Lillian Spencer Award for best artwork. 

Special Thanks: Dr. Carol Andrews, Jasper Humbert, Dr. 
Carol Jamison, Dr. Martha Marinara, Dr. Richard Nordquist, Setona 
Page, Shauna Silverman, and Michael Zehr 

Cover design and additional artwork: Micheal Torrance 



Black Roses Eric Filmer 9 

My Silver Panther Treva Fitzgerald 22 

Pot of Jonquils Rachel Brown 25 
To Finish Where Poe Left Off 

Kenneth Johnson 32 

The Calling Tiffanie L.C Rogers 61 
Sleeping With a Mockingbird Donna Ferrence 63 

Autobiography Michael Williams 70 

Deities' Debate Billy Parker 72 

These Four Walls Michelle Ortiz 83 

National Geographic Rachel Brown 88 

E'la JimSheehan 102 


Jumping Daphne Bazemore 6 

*Tough Guy David Starnes 1 1 

Straight Jackets David Marshall 27 

Just Desserts Freya Roseane Poller 33 

Patty's Coming Mary O'Sako 44 

A Sense of Family Danielle Argenti 64 

Forever Mary O'Sako 74 
Trash: A Lesson in Seduction 

Billy Parker 85 

The Spring Julie Barfield 89 


The Jester Micheal Torrance 1 

The Ultimate Ecstasy Setona Page 5 

Solitude Stefano Magliulo 10 

Monolith Des Purcell 21 

Catgirl ReneeHill 23 

Sunset Boulevard Des Purcell 24 
Wind Blown Ivy with Watermelon Shirt 

Phillip Kandel 26 

Shades Julie B. Hodge 31 

Childhood Dreams Renee Hill 32 

Obsessive Compulsive Karen Gwinner 43 

Helena Jennifer L. Cohen 44 

*Cory on The Tracks Des Purcell 60 

Momma's Passion Vickie Williams 68 

Eagle Robert Bell 69 

Marianne II Setona Page 71 

Mating Christopher Daly 84 

Loneliness Nick Bacich 87 

Dawn's Dew Vickie Williams 101 

Cloud Study #46 Setona Page 103 

Color Plates 

Self-Portrait as Van Gogh Renee Hill 

Elle Eva Martha Madsen 

Sun and Moon Tree Batik Dianna Ulm 

Time Flying Phillip Kandel 

* Indicates Lillian Spencer Award 


The Ultimate Ecstasy 

Setona Pag( 


Daphne Bazemore 

It had stood for years unnumbered, vast and alone, to 
span the broad river. Though made of gray concrete, it had 
always been known as Steel Bridge. Surrounded by thick, 
obscenely green bushes, the bridge was the jumping-off point 
for adulthood. Every summer since its creation, the 
graduating teenagers from the local high school would gather to 
swim and sun and fish. And jump. 

Lloyd stood bouncing lightly on his toes, waiting his 
turn. Heady from the reflection of the sun off the muddy 
brown water, he looked down toward the south end of the 
bridge, the place where the cops would first appear when they 
discovered that today was the day for jumping. Roger Waters 
caught him looking and smiled nastily. "Scared, Benton?" he 

"Bite me, Waters. I'm just looking at the sky." 

"Yeah? I bet you wish the cops would come so you 
wouldn't have to jump. You gonna pee your drawers when you 
hit the water, Benton?" 

"Get lost, Roger. I don't need you to make sure I don't 
chicken out. I'm gonna jump, same as everyone else." 

"Sure thing. Just remember I'll be happy to give you 
that little extra push if you need it." With that Roger walked 
farther down the line to hassle someone else. Lloyd released 
the breath he'd pent up in his mouth and slowly exhaled. 

He looked up at the perfect blue sky and wondered why 
it wouldn't start raining. Hard. He thought about what it 
would be like, jumping out into nothing, praying he wouldn't 
hit the bottom and get stuck and drown. Praying that his shorts 
wouldn't fly off when he hit the water. Praying he didn't 
scream too much like a girl. Just praying that he wouldn't do 
anything to embarrass himself. 

The whole class knew he was afraid of heights. He'd 

proved that conclusively on the physics trip when he'd passed 


out on the roller coaster. Lydia Rollins, his lab and ride part- 
ner, had slapped him frantically, screaming for them to stop the 
frigging ride 'cause he was gonna fall out or something. He'd 
come to just as the ride started down and had promptly puked 
into Lydia' s blouse. At the end of the ride he had been re- 
warded for his outstanding performance with a handful of wet 
napkins and a new lab partner. 

Now they expected him to jump off abridge. Fat 
chance. He'd probably puke on the way down and fall right 
into his own vomit. He was suddenly doubly glad he'd skipped 

Looking at the line, he realized that many of the stu- 
dents who had formerly been in front of him had somehow 
moved behind him while he was daydreaming. It was to be a 
crucifixion then. He was to be their entertainment. 

For a brief moment he considered walking away, citing 
appendicitis. But he knew instantly from their hungry faces 
that they would never allow it. One way or another, he was 
going off that bridge. It struck him suddenly that this same 
thing probably happened every year. Some poor, sad sack, the 
class punching bag, would be bullied off the bridge, much to 
the delight of his fellow students. He wondered if his father 
had gone willingly, bravely. He decided his father had prob- 
ably been the first one to jump, doing three back flips on his 
way down, his lawnmower-grill grin never wavering. 

There wasn't too much talking as Lloyd Benton stepped 
up onto the concrete railing. Mostly everyone just watched, 
their eyes wide, their mouths half-smiling, ready to roar if he 
should wet his pants or, God forbid, shit them. Ready with the 
catcalls, if he should step down. Lloyd knew it. From the 
moment his feet left the concrete, he would never be able to 
say, "Sorry, guys, I just can't do it. You see, my father, that 
paragon of virtue, used to take me with him on roofing jobs 
when I was a kid. One day I fell off and he never bothered to 
come see if I was okay. He just hollered for me to get my 
clumsy ass back up there and bring him a beer while I was at it. 
And so, no. I'm very sorry to spoil your fun, but no, I just 

can't do it. I'm afraid that if I do, this time there won't be any 
getting back up there because I'll be dead. Of fright." 

Lloyd clenched his fists and looked back at them, at 
their hungry faces, their eager eyes. He thought of his father. 
He realized that if his father were here now he would be part 
of that crowd, ready to push him if it was necessary. His 
father would have had no mercy. And neither would his 

He suddenly thought about the bushes under the 
bridge, how they had become a make-out spot for teenagers 
over the years. He wondered how many children had been 
conceived there, if he had been. He decided that it was a large 
probability and that it explained a lot about his father. 

His father hated him because he felt that Lloyd had 
stolen his life. 

Lloyd looked up at the sky again marveling at its blue 

On the way down he told his father that he had never 
loved him anyway. 

Self Portrait as Van Gogh 

Renee Hill 

Black Roses 

Open windows let in no air 

or light, the sun has died. 

Instead I shall light candles, 

placing them upon the table 

amidst empty plates 

amidst silverware 

amidst the dust. 

Settings for a feast 

to which only I arrived. 

Is it too early to pour the wine? 

What goes with nothing, white or red? 

The stillness begins to unnerve 

as it always has; 

it has always been here. 

I shall finally break the silence 

Playing music in the ballroom 

An old phonograph scratching out old melodies 

Echoing throughout the chambers, 

Haunting this place. 

I can still waltz. 

Swirling around bouquets of black roses 

in the waning candlelight 

taking into my arms 

spirits of the memories 

of what never occurred. 

Eric Filmer 


Stefano Magliulo 


Tough Guy 

David Starnes 

Before he lost his legs, Jonas Lawrence was a regular at 
the snooker table in the back room of Cleo's place. He never 
looked up from a game, never regarded me at any neighboring 
pool tables, never responded to my habit of sinking the cue 
ball, missing the eight ball, or losing most of the time. I was 
just another college student. I never understood the physics of 
snooker, the kiss of red against red, but I liked the way he 
glided around the table as if he were on wheels. He moved 
with grace and deliberation and leaned into a shot as if he were 
aiming a rifle. One eye was almost sealed shut into a perma- 
nent wink, and the good one matched the blue of the chalk. 
Between turns he drew from a pack of Camels. He rarely 
spoke, except to comment on his opponent's shot, and even 
then it was a growl of neither praise nor sympathy, but like the 
tentative bark a dog might make at some sudden motion. 
Sometimes his rasp resembled a laugh, and a dozen crooked 
teeth surrendered to the occasion. But otherwise his mouth 
seemed to have arrived at a bad taste and settled there. When 
he wasn't wielding a pool stick, he sat near the card table, not 
playing, but watching as he smoked, or smoking as he read 
from a shelf of paperbacks, or reading with a cup of black 
coffee in his hand. The books he held were usually westerns 
by Max Brand or Luke Short, but once I saw him with a dog- 
eared Pocket Book of Verse. Mr. Lawrence wore dark shirts 
with snaps instead of buttons, dark slacks, and beat-up mocca- 
sins over dark socks. He combed his white hair straight back. 
He looked like an older, more brawny version of Hopalong 

It was my first year of college in the mill town of Port 
Angeles and my second attempt at student life in general. I had 
tried the university right out of high school in Seattle, but 
dropped out after a semester, not prepared for the tallness of 
the world. I remained at home, helping out at my father's 
lumber business. 


My father had been in the navy. We had moved around 
a lot when I was growing up, coming and going in the middle 
of a school year, breaking up the leisure of a summer, adding 
an extra chill to a winter. At each school I would arrive either 
far ahead or far behind in my lessons. I was either catching up 
to the kids around me or getting bored as they caught up to me. 
By the time I graduated from Roosevelt High, I was intimi- 
dated by everything that breathed, by everyone who addressed 
me — from the mailman to the girl across the street, from my 
teacher to my own father. My social skills were like those of 
most people my age, I suppose, only worse. Yet, I wasn't 
interested in people my own age. I preferred the company of 
children or those much older. I thought there was more to 
learn from the extremes. 

After a year of working for my father I moved to Port 
Angeles and enrolled in Peninsula, a small school in the hills 
above the town. The first year there I had roomed with three 
other boys, but I had grown weary of lights burning at all 
hours, of bathroom humor and humorless bathrooms, of stale 
beer, dead socks and underwear, and most wearisome of all, 
the pervasive topic of sex. Although I was older than the 
others, I had not yet experienced the act itself beyond a surplus 
of kisses. That summer I had stroked a single breast, one night 
in a lifeguard's chair at Alki Point. I had scaled a hill, while all 
about me the talk was of mountains— the air was thin with 
visions of Himalayan ecstasy. 

A few days before fall classes began, I drove up from 
Seattle to find a new place to live. I had heard about a cheap 
rooming house that rented to students, as well as truckers, 
laborers and salesmen. It was an old two story house on the 
bluff overlooking the Straight of Juan de Fuca, and at night 
Vancouver Island displayed a bracelet of lights. The house was 
the faded red of a retired barn, and a patch of cornstalks took 
up half the back yard. I was drawn to its age, its humble 

When Jonas Lawrence answered my knock he filled the 
front door with the same imposing stance I had seen at Cleo's. 


I expected him to be armed with a cue stick, but his hand 
gripped a paperback and obscured its cover, except for the head 
of a wild-eyed horse. 

"Yeah," he rasped, not as a question, but as if in reply. 
The clear blue eye inspected me while the other seemed to 
resist looking at me. I addressed a scar that splintered a corner 
of his upper lip. I asked about a room and he led me through a 
parlor to the door of one that contained nothing more, nor 
could it have allowed more, than a bed, a chest of drawers, and 
a wardrobe closet. 

"Fifty dollars a week." said Mr. Lawrence. "Share the 
kitchen. Bath down the hall." 

"If it's no trouble," I began, standing before the tall 

"No trouble," he said, raising a hand between us before 
he walked away. "Move in today." 

I immediately settled into the worn and outworn quality 
of Mr. Lawrence's rooms. I warmed to the yellowed shades, 
the dust upon the drapes, the cabbage roses on the ancient 
wallpaper. And I warmed to my host and landlord. He was 
around seventy and as set in his ways as the linoleum path 
between our rooms and the hallway. I had been intimidated by 
his bulk and his direct one-eyed gaze, and yet I relinquished 
that intimidation once I absorbed the sounds and smells of his 
presence. I felt at home among the worn and outworn. 

I still clung to the artifacts of my childhood — a baseball 
glove, picture books, a Lone Ranger lunch box — things I'd 
outgrown or played out. They were outdated but remained in 
the present. But I was taken by older things as well, the things 
beyond my birth: old clothes, old books, old records, old cars. 
I loved to prowl among thrift shops and second hand stores, 
responding to age and my ageless tastes. I wore clothes from 
another era, shirts and jackets that a man three times my age 
might have in his closet. 

Mr. Lawrence mostly left me alone. We might not 
encounter each other for days at a time, as I left early for 
classes and he remained in bed, or one of us turned in before 


the other returned home. Sometimes we sat down to a meal 
together, and one night a week we shared his whiskey. 

I'd had a few beers before, and there had been alcohol 
in my family's house, but neither of my parents made much of 
a dent in any one bottle. The liquor usually surfaced at 
Thanksgiving, and gradually returned to a closet or cupboard 
with the last of the Christmas decorations. But Mr. Lawrence 
introduced me to it straight; Old Crow poured modestly into a 
glass until it diminished my own sense of modesty, and I 
voiced the opinions of a man of the world, without an original 
thought behind them. I soon discovered that not only was my 
landlord practically sightless in one eye, but nearly deaf in one 
ear. He sat drinking in profile at the kitchen table, with his 
weak eye and ear turned towards me. Occasionally he cupped 
a hand over the ear, straining to catch my low inflections. It 
would have been more agreeable to have switched places with 
him at the table, but it never seemed to have occurred to him. 
Besides the oilcloth was more faded at his chair. His arm had 
rested there a long time. 

Mr. Lawrence had been in the merchant marines, had 
worked as a stevedore, a rodeo rider, an umpire in the minor 
leagues, and for the railroad. He was twice married and twice 
divorced and had lived in his red house for twenty-five years. 
After each splash of whiskey in our glasses he replaced the cap 
on the bottle, and after several splashes, his stories detoured 
into other stories. By then he ignored my empty glass and 
drank from the bottle, only to lower it again with an after- 
thought. The bottle approached his mouth a few more times in 
anticipation of the big sip. Then came his perpetual look of 
surprise when his mouth met the cap. But by that moment my 
chin was approaching my chest and I was off to bed, finding 
my way by a kind of braille consisting of wallpaper, plaster, 
and lamp shades. 

On other nights I was awakened by the gruff exchanges 
between Mr. Lawrence and one of the roomers down the hall. 
Once he and a salesman I had never seen look sober tried to 
recite "The Walrus and the Carpenter," and Mr. Lawrence kept 


repeating, "The time has come to speak of many things." Or 
the evening he and a meeker presence argued over who was 
older, and Mr. Lawrence claimed to be one hundred. I fell 
back asleep believing him. 

The fall term passed by as quietly as the leaves of the 
sycamores and elms. I took a course in world literature, a 
speech class, and French. The theater department was doing 
Look Homeward, Angel, which was set in the early part of this 
century. There was a joke around campus that I had loaned out 
my wardrobe for the play. 

In the thin air of November, when the leaves were at 
their most red and yellow, and the light of day was religiously 
serene, I fell in love with Leah Haven. She was in my speech 
class, where she had turned my head with her blushing diffi- 
dence and willful defiance; she giggled and she held her chin 
high. She had grown up fifteen miles away in Sequim. She 
was a violinist in the local orchestra and was majoring in 
German. She had dreams of continental breakfasts, first class 
railway compartments, and studying under some palsied baton 
in Vienna. She was sparrow-like with big feet. I called her 
Minnie Mouse. She called me Charlie Chaplin, because I went 
by Charles and she thought I walked like the tramp. By Hal- 
loween our kisses had all but welded our mouths together, and 
by the first frost we were ready for more. I lied and said that I 
had, too, at seventeen. "We were such babes," she said, her 
face half in mourning. Leah roomed with two other girls in the 
lower level of the home of the philosophy professor, Dr. 
Werner, and his wife. Our moments there alone were rare, and 
to spend the night was out of the question. 

On a gray and damp Sunday Leah appeared at Mr. 
Lawrence's front door. Mr. Lawrence spent most Sundays at 
Cleo's, and I was glad to have the place to myself. Leah wore 
the trench coat I'd found in a thrift shop but was too small for 
me. She looked like a child pretending to be a spy. 

"I had to get out of there. A bunch of guys came over 
and I couldn't hear myself think. I hope you don't mind me 
coming here. I would have called but — " 


"No. That's fine. I'm glad. Sit. Please." I was ner- 
vous as a horse. It was the first time in my life that a girl had 
called on me. I pulled Mr. Lawrence's chair from the table. 
"Would you like some tea?" 

"That would be nice. Yes, I would. Thank you." 

Mr. Lawrence kept a kettle warm on the stove. I made 
a small pot and placed it on the table to steep. She warmed her 
hands on the pot as if it were a lamp. She eyed the kitchen, the 
parlor, the cracked linoleum, the loose wallpaper, the sunken 

"So this is where you live," she said. "You like old 
things, don't you? Like the coat you gave me. And your old 
Charlie Chaplin pants. I figured you'd live in a place like this. 
I think it's nice." 

"Well, it's pretty old, all right." 

"So where's your old friend? Mister — I can't remem- 
ber his name." 

"Lawrence. He's probably down at Cleo's." 

"Cleo's? That old tavern on Front Street?" 

I poured each of us a cup of weak Earl Grey. "Well, 
it's a pool hall as well." 

"A pretty old pool hall, if you ask me. Don't tell me 
you've been there. Well, of course you would have." 

"Sure. That's how I met my landlord. Well, not ex- 
actly. I used to see him there a lot. I was kind of scared of 

"Why scared?" 

"I don't know. I thought he was some old tough guy, 
which I guess he is." 

"Did you ever talk to him?" 

"I was afraid to. But I was wrong. He doesn't bother 

"Can we go there sometime?" 

"To Cleo's? Sure. Do you like to shoot pool?" 

She giggled, revealing the tip of her tongue and precise 
little teeth. "Maybe you can teach me." 

"Ha. I'm not exactly Paul Newman. In fact, I'm not 


very good at all." 

"Oh really?" She held her cup high in both hands and 
peered at me through the handle, as if she were taking a pic- 
ture. "What are you good at?" 

Her expression had changed from the girl in speech 
class and the girl I had kissed until I was ready to crawl into 
her mouth. It was now the face of a woman I was just meeting. 
It was still Leah, but Leah with lines and colors I'd missed 
before. She stepped out of her coat, letting it fall to the chair, 
no longer a child pretending, now taller and fuller; in a minute 
she would rise to the ceiling like Alice. 

"Where's your room?" she asked with an older voice. 

I led her by the hand and closed the door and pulled the 
shade. The light in the room was the color of sleep. We did 
the rest in silence. 

I don't know what time it was when Mr. Lawrence 
found us. I'd forgotten his habit of cracking the door to see if I 
was in, sometimes switching on the overhead light. I'd either 
pretend to be asleep or that his waking me had not been a 
bother. But when the room lit up and I had grown a second 
head, Mr. Lawrence froze, and even his bad eye seemed to 
register. The room went dark again and the door closed softly 
behind him. 

Leah giggled under the covers, a girl again. "I think 
I've outstayed my welcome." 

"No, don't leave yet." I held on to the newness of her, 
to the scent of pine and something metallic. "I have to tell you. 

"Yes. . ." She stretched the word out, lowering her 
voice, mocking authority. 

"That was the first time for me. I couldn't tell you 

She was silent but the room was not dark enough for 
me to miss her eyes when she moved her hand across them. 
We drifted back to sleep and woke again at dawn. We dressed 
and eased past Mr. Lawrence's closed door and through the 


Leah's coat had been neatly hung on the back of the 
kitchen chair I used. We kissed at the front door before she 
withdrew into a white morning. It had snowed and I thought 
the whole world was a wedding. 

On the day when the world was observing the anniver- 
sary of Pearl Harbor. Leah telephoned to say she had missed 
her period. She thought she had been safe with me, and now 
she was scared. She couldn't see me for awhile; she was going 
home to her family. The approaching holidays grew louder 
and more offensive. School was out for three weeks, but I felt 
no elation, no sense of release. I sought refuge with my own 
family, wishing to avoid the tall world again, but I returned to 
Port Angeles right after Christmas. My calls to Sequim had 
been curtly received by Leah's mother: "I'll give her the 

Finally I drove to her home. A tree blinked off and on 
relaying back to itself in the center of a picture window. The 
front railing was draped with red velvet, and a giant candy cane 
was attached to the front door. 

Leah's face showed no age at all. She greeted me with 
the same self-assurance, coupled with the same hesitancy I'd 
witnessed in speech class, w 7 hen she had addressed thirty 
skeptical faces on "The Romantic Impulse of Johannes 
Brahms." Except for my face, which Leah had fixed upon by 
the end of her talk. But now I wished to discard my face, to 
shed it; I didn't know what else to do with it. 

She thrust her eyes at me, dark and defiant, but I looked 
away from them. She asked to sit with me in my car. I kept 
my eyes on the street, where a few boys were testing out new 
bicycles. She spoke to my profile. I would just as soon she 
had met with a deaf ear and a closed eye. 

; *You see. it wasn't you at all. but someone I used to 
know. He called me the week before. There was no one at 
home, and it just. . .happened. I'm sorry. I didn't know how to 
tell you. But Charles. . .Charlie. . .that day. that night with you 
was so different. Oh. God, I'm ruining this." She started to cry 


and I let her. "I couldn't talk to you. I was afraid. Like you 
used to be of Mr. Lawson." 

"Lawrence." I turned toward her at last. "You were 
afraid of me? That's a laugh. I'm no tough guy." 

"I know. It's because you're not tough. I couldn't hurt 
you like I'm hurting you now. You're too good for me." 

In the late afternoon of the last day of the year I lay 
with my face to the wall. Mr. Lawrence knocked and opened 
the door. He spoke without looking at me, as he would at the 
table. "We might as well bend a few elbows," he said. 
"There's nothing else to do around here." 

I followed him into the kitchen where he had mixed up 
some eggnog. He offered me a glass cup and we toasted the 
new year. We were still toasting an hour later. We had run out 
of eggnog and had started in on the remaining bourbon. This 
time we both drank from the bottle. 

"I was getting worried about you, Charles. Staying in 
your room. Staring at the ceiling all day. Not a good habit for 
a fellow to get into." He showed me his good eye which shone 
like a jewel. He lit a cigarette and passed the bottle across the 

"I had a gentleman upstairs one year. Lost his wife. 
Blew his head off. You should have seen his face when I 
found him. You could see the disgust that made him put the 
gun in his mouth. Then the fear when he pulled the trigger. 
Then the shock when he fell back and saw his brains on the 
ceiling." He shook his head and reached for the bottle. 
"Damndest thing I've ever seen." 

Out in the night the revelers were starting to broadcast 
with car horns and a few tentative firecrackers. 

Mr. Lawrence held the bottle up to the light. "How do 
you like that?" he said. "We're all out of whiskey and ciga- 
rettes and women. Let's take a hike." 

We got our coats. Mr. Lawrence started to turn out the 
kitchen light but then decided to leave it on. He spoke over his 
shoulder as we entered the hallway. "Makes it look like we're 
home when we get back." I closed the front door behind us and 


we set out for the lights of the liquor store a few blocks away. 

Mr. Lawrence was in the air before I had stepped from 
the curb. The kid never saw him in those dark clothes. The car 
tossed him onto the hood, and when the boy hit the brakes, Mr. 
Lawrence was thrown him back to the street and under the car. 

While he was in the hospital I looked after the red 
house, showing rooms to prospective tenants, collecting rent, 
answering calls. I roamed about the space we had shared, 
which had grown musty without Mr. Lawrence's efforts at 
opening doors and windows. Now it was too cold. The oil 
heater brought memories of my childhood winters, ticking 
away with strange rooms, foreign faces and voices, the intimi- 
dation of new air. I strayed from studies and sat at the kitchen 
table, sometimes in the dark, sipping from a bottle of Old Crow 
I'd bought in Mr. Lawrence's absence. I heard his bark as he 
lost himself in a tall story. We had become easy friends, the 
easiest I had yet known. He told his stories and I listened. He 
asked me about school, about my family, and I had little to say, 
reluctant to raise my voice without a drink or two. I shrugged 
and he nodded. We wore our old clothes and were comfortable 
with the silence between us. 

In a few weeks he was home, greeting a handful of 
visitors from a wheel chair in the parlor with the same offhand 
remark: 'They took off my legs since I last saw you." 

Mr. Lawrence's sister had flown up from Utah to be 
with him. I stayed with them until the end of spring when the 
school year was over. His sister had talked him into a rest 
home. Mr. Lawrence grumbled at first but gave in to the idea. 

"Can't dance and it's too wet to plow," he told me on 
the day I left. We shook hands on the sidewalk, at the curb 
where he had been airborne. It was the first time we had 
touched each other. His hand was large and warm and had 
done it all. He held on to mine and closed. The old red house 
seemed to be fading as I stood over him. I moved back to 
Seattle. It's a tall city and I belonged there. 



Des Purcell 


My Silver Panther 

My silver panther 
closes his warm amber eyes 
to sleep during the noon day heat 
so he can hunt during the night. 
In his sleep, all tension escapes his body; 
he purrs his way into sweet dreams 
of successful hunts. He looks as innocent 
as a newborn kitten— sweet, fresh, and cuddly. His heart 
is open to your pain and fears. His friendship is a protector 
from the storms that overtake the fields of my life. 

When he awakes, he stretches; his muscles 
move to a beautiful choreographed dance as light 
and shadows play among the planes of his skin. He snuggles 
closer to me fighting the urges of wakefulness. I can feel 
his heartbeat and spirit grow as he slowly awakens. 

But when he is awake, he is a hunter of the night. 
He is most alive at night with the moonlight streaming and 
glowing down on his silver hair. He moves with an ease of 
self awareness. He moves in and out of the shadows of 
the night on a prowl looking for a successful hunt. Watchful 
eyes always aware of who and what is around him. 

Beware of his amber eyes, for if you stare into them too long, 
he mesmerizes and pulls you in for the taking. A faint glimmer 
of playfulness always sparkles in his eyes. He is open one 
minute to your affections and loving. I seize the moment to 
hold and soothe him. His hair is short and stubbly, 
but feels like silver satin to the eager fingertips. As I 
massage his neck, he relaxes his defenses. For that brief 
moment. I can feel his spirit. I feel his thoughts, pain, 
frustrations, fears, passions, and loves. Suddenly, he pulls 
away, leaving me shaking from all the intense sensations I 
feel. With a blink of an eye, he is aloof and distant, but 
always demanding my attention. 

Treva Fitzgerald 



Renee Hill 


Sunset Boulevard 

Des Purcell 


A Pot of Jonquils 

Each day he wears 
a clean white shirt 
his wife washes 
and starches for him. 

He keeps plotted photo 
contracts in his briefcase. 
He snaps the lock shut and 
applies after-shave lotion. 

Dressed in blue suit, he waves 
to her, then travels 
over bumpy, rural clay roads 
visiting old widows. 

This week the back of 
his black automobile 
is filled with pots of yellow 
jonquils sitting side by side. 

If each woman gives him 
two names of close friends 
(only widows will do), 
he gives client a gift. 

His fresh white shirt, dark 
blue suit and after- 
shave fragrance plus 
boyish grin nail the sale. 


When he shows Widow Jane 
serene scene, she gives names, 
signs on dotted line and gets 
a pot of yellow jonquils. 

The scene of measured plots, 
green grass and shade trees, 
is cemetery, where 
I wait for widows to die. 

Rachel Brown 

Windblown Ivy with Watermelon Shirt 

Phil Kandell 



Eva Martha Madsen 

Straight Jackets 

David Marshall 

The first time I actually heard "They're Coming to 
Take Me Away," I was in the University of Massachusetts 
Medical Center — psychiatric ward. We were eating break- 
fast. WIXV, the local classic rock station, was running a 
contest to see if anyone could identify it. I could (my sister 
used to hum it), but the nurses didn't let me call. But that was 
okay. It gave me and Josh something to bitch about. We were 
both there for suicide attempts. 

We always had to have something to bitch about. Not 
because there was really anything wrong, but because during 
the morning meeting the patients were supposed to bring up 
any problems so they might be discussed in a healthy manner. 
It was all part of becoming functional people — that's what 
Lily, the head nurse, said. 

We were eating breakfast when Dan walked in. We 
were all pretty surprised to see Dan out of his room. He was 
normally confined there because he would wander off. 

"Good morning, Dan," I said. "It's good to see you out 
and about again." 

"Hi, God," Dan said. Dan was psychotic. 

"Are you joining us for breakfast, Dan?" I said. 

"Maybe physically, but Dan will never join us," said 
Josh. I ignored Josh. 

"Yeah. I'm here for breakfast," said Dan. 

Dan walked over to the long table at the end of the day 
room to find his tray. He just stared at all the trays like he was 
waiting for his to stand up and shout, "Me, take me!" I went to 
the table and found his tray for him. 

"Here, Dan, this one is yours." 

Dan held his hand out to shake mine; he liked shaking 
hands. I think it assured him that we were real. I put his tray 


in his hand and patted his shoulder. 

'Thanks, God." 

"Come on, Dan." We walked over to the table where 
Josh and I were sitting. Before Dan would sit down I had to 
take his tray and set it on the table with the fork, knife, and 
spoon set up in a row to the right of the tray. 

Josh watched us. "What a screw-up," he said. 

"Shut up," I said. Josh shot me an angry look. Most 
people avoided Josh because hehad almost killed someone in a 
dissociative fit. Supposedly his mind shut down when he got 
angry and he would attack people. He was all talk. We all 

I sat down across from Dan and looked into his eyes. 
They were empty. Dan walked like his soul had fled and his 
body was trying to remember how to repeat daily processes. 
The three of us sat and ate in silence. 

I had just taken Dan's and my trays back to the long 
table at the end of the day room and sat back down when Lily 
came in with Nick, my therapist. They were going to lead the 
morning meeting. 

"Alright, everybody. Please sit down." Lily looked 
around the room to see who wasn't there. "Andy, Nancy, and 
Pete are here," she said. Lily reminded me of that woman on 
Romper Room who looked through her magic mirror to see all 
the kids in TV land. 

"Where's Mike and Trina? Are they coming?" asked 
Lily. "Well, we'll start without them." Lily noticed Dan 
sitting next to me. "Dan, should you be here?" 

"Yeah! He's the craziest one of all. Of course he 
should be here." Josh laughed at his own joke. 

"Enough, Josh," said Lily, "Dan, please go back to 
your room." Nick got up and walked over to Dan. Taking him 
by the arm, he led Dan out. 

"Now," said Lily, "does anyone have an issue to bring 
up today?" 

"Yes," I said, "why couldn't I call the radio station?" 

"Will, you are here to learn to live a healthy, functional 


life, not make phone calls to DI's/' 

'That's part of living a healthy life. It's making contact 
with other people," I said. 

"Yes, it is. But not meaningful contact." 

"Please define meaningful contact." Being a college 
student, I liked to challenge their ideas and force them to think. 

"Please, Will. You're being difficult," Lily said. 

"No. I think I deserve an answer." 

"Will, I'm not going to put up with this. Why are you 
acting out? You're never like this." 

"Because I think I should have some say in what I do," 
I said. 

"You do." 


"Will, go to your room," said Lily. 

I did. 

I sat on my bed and ran through the rest of the morning 
meeting in my head. Mike would walk in late and complain 
that we only had four set times to smoke and he wanted more 
because he had nicotine fits. An argument would start and Lily 
would say that the discussion would continue tomorrow. 

I sat on my bench and watched Dan, who was in the 
room across from me. He kept wandering around. Nick was 
still with him, trying to get him to sit down and draw or some- 
thing. But Dan wanted to be out with everybody. Nick kept 
wiping his face and running his fingers through his hair. I 
think he was frustrated with Dan. 

"Ed, can you get a coat for Dan?" Nick asked in a 
shout. I smiled. They were taking Dan for a walk. He de- 
served it. 

I got up and walked to the door of my room. Ed, the 
male nurse, was running down the hall. In his hand was a 
white coat. Across the hall, Nick had gotten Dan to sit on the 
bed. Ed walked in and unfolded the coat. Its sleeves were 
long. With buckles. 

"Hold your arms out, Dan," said Nick. Dan did. 

Ed walked over and slid the jacket on Dan, who stared 


across the hall at me. His eyes were still empty. He had 
become a lamb, trusting sadistic shepherds. Bill pulled Dan's 
arms across his chest and began to buckle the sleeves to the 

"No!" said Dan, "you can't do this." His eyes filled 
with tears. "God. Help me." 

I tried to move. I was powerless. Tears steamed down 
my face. 

"Let him go, Nick," I said. 

Nick looked at me. "Shut your door, Will." 

I did. 



Julie B. Hodge 


To Finish Where Poe Left Off 

One night in a drunken slumber, 

I was awoken by a plunder. 

"What the hell could it possibly be?" 

Was the only thought that occurred to me. 

Could it be that mutt next door; 

No, it was that wretched raven crying, "nevermore." 

I had had enough of this foul mouthed bird; 

To put up with this just seemed absurd. 

"How to deal with this devil," in my mind kept clicking; 

Now I can honestly say, "raven tastes like chicken." 

I sent him back to "Night's Plutonian Shore," 

And that bird will bother me "nevermore." 

Kenneth Johnson 

Childhood Dreams 

Renee Hill 

Just Desserts 

Freya Roseane Poller 

On the day that Aaron Wolf Johnson decided to kill his 
wife, he went to the grocery store and bought a grocery basket 
full of the most sumptuous food. 

As he drove his Volvo out of their circular driveway, he 
imagined walking up and down the aisles, coveting and fon- 
dling the most exotic foods. 

"Papaya nectar. . .," he murmured as he came to the 
stop sign at the end of Lighthouse Pointe Drive. He smacked 
his lips thoughtfully, imagining the taste of the thick, pink, 
viscous liquid. 

"Four years! Coupon cutting! Scrimping! Pinching!" 
He hit the steering wheel in his frustration and barely missed 
hitting two kids on bikes. They gaped as he distractedly 
regained control of the car. His knuckles whitened from his 
grip on the wheel. 

"Macadamia nuts. Ah, what delights. Eleven dollars a 
pound. I will leave a pile of nutshells on the Country Geese 
Simulated Pine Table. Maybe she'll keel over from that 
alone." He licked his lips in anticipation. 

In his excitement, Aaron failed to notice stop signs, 
neglected to use turn signals, and sped with the most blinding 
fury to Harris Teeter, his favorite grocery store. He made it to 
the store unscathed; he had the sheer will of someone giddy 
with the excitement of killing his wife. 

He sat panting in his Volvo in the grocery parking lot. 
His shaky hands reached up for the rearview mirror. A little 
this way, there. Nice face, not bad as a whole. He looked into 
his own eyes. 

Hopelessly bloodshot. 

"Visine. . .check," he said aloud as he added to his list. 
"And a train for Bobby, and a dolly for Suzie, and for my 
Miranda, a meal to die for!" he sang gleefully as his ticker tape 
list unfurled into his lap. 


"I don't look like the type who would kill his wife," he 
reassured himself in the mirror. "Such a nice nose and a kindly 
mouth," he said, practicing smiles and grimaces. 

He ran shaky fingers through his limp hair and clutched 
at the scalp. "Maniacal? No, just a little harried. I'll comb it 
just in case." 

Gray hairs in the comb. 

"Not gray, silver. You are a very handsome man," he 
said into the rearview with perfect frankness. His reflection 
did not respond. 

Once inside, Aaron found the most perfect grocery cart. 
It was an object of sheer beauty, all shiny chrome with su- 
perbly oiled wheels that all went the same direction at the same 
time. The bar grip was smooth and red, a color most conducive 
to shopping. The cart hummed quietly as it and Aaron moved 
out of the cart corral into Harris Teeter proper. 

Aaron hummed along with his cart, a tuneless hum that 
propelled him in just the right direction, past the impulse- 
buying-trial-size-travel-sample-aisle. He wasn't in the mood to 
mess with piddly stuff. 

On to produce! 

"The more colors in a meal, the healthier to kill you 
with, my dear," he giggled as he felt the red, green, and yellow 
peppers for the perfect resilience. He chose two of each, at 
$1.29 a pound. 

He chose endive, arugula, leeks, and escarole with 
equal fondness. 

"Vitamin D! Beta carotene! Be sure you get plenty of 
greens," he called to a pale, goateed passerby. 

The circular glasses turned to look at him. 

"Thanks, man, you must really care." 

Aaron smiled and turned his attention to cauliflower. 
No, snow peas. They have such a good crunch. He filled his 
bag and picked up a beautiful bulb of garlic. 

"To keep vampires away," he thought, "but it won't do 
the littlest bit of good against me!" 

He wore a wide smile as he loaded a perfect cantaloupe, 


two pomegranates, an ugli-fruit, an avocado, and two black 
plums into the basket. Lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, and 
scallions for a small salad were added as an afterthought. 

'I'll do her up in grand style. All seven courses. What 
for a soup?" he wondered as his cart rounded out of produce 
and into canned goods. 

His trip through canned goods was short enough; he 
scoffed at the pre-fab meals. 

"Miranda, my love, I know that you would disapprove, 
but I must forego the Cambell's for tonight. I shall feed you 
leek soup in high style." 

He consulted his list. Veggies, taken care of. No 
canned foods that he really needed, so he could move to his 
favorite section, the ethnic food aisle. 

He ran his fingers over the shiny packages of oriental 

Where was that jar of curry? 

The Seven Rajah brand of curry in the spicy variety was 
the item he lusted after every time he traveled this aisle. 

There it was. It had a broken safety seal, and every 
time he came here, he opened it and took a sniff. Surrepti- 
tiously at first, but then long, blissful inhalations. At eight 
dollars for two ounces it was a little pricey, but — 

"What the hell! You only live once, and some longer 
than others!" he crowed as a jar of curry with an unbroken 
safety seal took its place in the front of the basket, nestled in 
with the leaf lettuce. He gazed at it lovingly. This was not on 
his list, but he felt that he deserved it. 

"Oh, Miranda, it feels so good to buy things that you 
would never approve of. I'm almost a free man," he thought. 
"I have longed for that curry for eons." 

Aaron felt a small twinge of regret when he realized 
that he had almost finished his list. He was almost done shop- 
ping. Only dairy, sweets, and meats were left to purchase. But 
he forged on; he had a task to accomplish. 

Aaron raced through dairy, grabbing ricotta cheese and 
smoked edam, plain lowfat yogurt and 2% milk. He also 


picked up eggs and neufchatel cheese. He moved quickly until 
he thought that he must look like those fools on "Supermarket 
Sweep." With the thought of that ridiculous game show, he 
slowed to an acceptable pace. 

He made it to the baking aisle and got a bag of semi- 
sweet miniature M&M's. They were Miranda's favorite. He 
thought of her fondly, eating the entire two pound bag in one 
sitting. She did have some endearing traits. 

Aaron felt a little sad when he realized he could never 
again hold her hand as she suffered a two pound M&M over- 

Oh, well. 

Aaron's last stop was at the meat section. He had 
special ordered a gorgeous turkey; eighteen pounds of perfec- 
tion. It was a never-frozen beauty, all cold and goose-bumped. 
He watched as Kale the butcher wrapped the bird in white 
paper and taped it with plenty of white tape. 

"Did you remember the cranberries for the stuffing?" 
asked Kale. 

He received no answer because Aaron was clutching his 
turkey and heading in a beeline for the checkout. 

The checkout girl had purple hair and a rather peculiar 
speech affectation. 

"Wow, you're cooking up a killer meal, sir! That curry 
is to die for. I got some just last week, and I was in absolute 
heaven!" she said. 

"You, Janine," Aaron said as he glanced at her tag, 
"you are absolutely dead on." 

He got his change and fairly bounced out of the store. 

Aaron was very careful driving home. His turkey sat in 
the passenger's seat. Aaron considered buckling the bird in, 
but decided against it. 

"We wouldn't want anyone to think I was crazy, would 

No answer. 

"It would be tragic to have bought all this lovely food 
and crash on the way home. The fates would have cheated me. 


You'll be divine, Turkey. Few turkeys are destined for greater 
things." He patted the turkey and wiped the condensation on 
his pants. 

"So many people are just frightfully dull about killing. 
They shoot or strangle or stab. And they always get caught. I 
am more clever. . .so clever. You will be my accomplice, but 
don't worry; they can't catch us!" 

Aaron lowered his voice to a whisper. "You see, all I 
have to do is take some turkey fat, let it sit out for a few hours, 
and it will breed the most lovely, deadly food poisons! The 
only problem is how to have Miranda eat it without also getting 
sick myself. . .1 haven't quite decided how to do it yet. . ." He 
mentally rearranged his plan as the Volvo rounded onto Light- 
house Pointe Drive. 

The sign on his street jerked him out of his reverie. "I 
hate it! Lighthouse Point-E! Why can't they just spell it 
correctly? Miranda just loves the spelling. 'Oh, Baby, it's just 
so sophisticated sounding,' was what she said when we moved 

"I guess it shows where her tastes lie," he told the 

The turkey remained a silent accomplice. Aaron pulled 
into the circular driveway and spent the next fifteen minutes 
unloading his bags of groceries onto the kitchen counter. 

He shuddered every time he opened the back door to 
see the powder blue geese honking "back door guests are best" 
under a powder pink, heart-shaped cartoon dialogue bubble. 

After Aaron put away all the groceries, he brought his 
turkey out of the fridge. He cleaned it. "There, my little turkey. 
Let's get all those harmful bacteria off. We'll save them for the 
one who really deserves it!" 

He spiced it. "Here's some parsley, and pepper, and an 
apple for your cavity. We have to fill it, my dear!" 

He trussed it and tied it with the utmost care. "I don't 
mean to stifle you, but it must be done," he apologized. "Just 
think about what you will become and the mitzvah you will 


He cleaned up his mess, wiped the counter very care- 
fully with Clorox, and threw the scraps in the trash — but 
reserved about an ounce of fat and skin. He put it in a blue 
bowl with geese dancing around the rim. He took the bowl 
into the bedroom that he shared with Miranda and placed it in 
the upper left hand corner of the very highest shelf of their 
closet, next to the pink mink that she won for selling Mary-Kay 

He heard the back door opening and almost fell off his 
step ladder. 

He walked into the kitchen and greeted her. 

"Hello, Miranda, how was your day?" Aaron smiled 
the most loving smile he could muster. 

Miranda fixed one eye and a cocked eyebrow on him. 
She drew herself up to her full five feet three inches and placed 
a fist on her ample hip. 

"What are you doing home? And what are you doing?" 
she asked. 

"I'm fixing a romantic, gourmet dinner for just the two 
of us," Aaron cooed. 

"But I picked up Stouffer's chicken potpies on the way 

Aaron thought about people who killed and their moti- 
vation. Some people killed for revenge. Some killed for the 
experience of snuffing a life. He thought that another hideous 
Stouffer's potpie was reason enough to legitimize his act. 

"Don't you like Miranda's kitchen?" she demanded, 
tapping a pointy-shoed foot. "Oh, go ahead, but I want to 
know exactly how much money you spent on junk. Just re- 
member that all these little extras come out of the account to 
buy our Country Touch living room group. You need to set 
some priorities." 

"And my day was fine," she added. "Mary Kathryn 
said that I have the shiniest hair she's ever seen. And I sold 
Miss Barkley a whole Day-To-Nite beauty set. She needs it to 
cover that pruney face just as much as we need the money. 
Especially since you decided to squander 


our income on junk!" she spat. 

"All right, Miranda," Aaron sighed, "I'll be more 
careful. Look! I bought your favorite!" He singsonged, 
swinging the bag of M&M's he got for the express purpose of 
taming the savage beast. 

"Oooh! You do love me!" squealed Miranda as she 
made a grab for the bag. 

Aaron maneuvered out of her way and poured a handful 
into a goose cup. "This is all you can have right now. Don't 
spoil your appetite." 

Miranda took the M&M's and a plastic cup of purple 
Kool-aid into the living room. 

'There she goes. She's so classy," said Aaron, under 
his breath, of course. "I wish I could see some good qualities 
in her. She's just turned into such a flat character." 

Full of motivation, and with renewed inspiration, Aaron 
set out to cook the most fantastic meal of their lives. He could 
smell his turkey accomplice growing tasty and brown in the 
oven. Aaron shivered with eagerness. 

"I can't wait! I can't!" he said, partly to his turkey, 
partly to himself. 

The problem of where to put the spoiled turkey fat was 
still a problem. In the leek soup? Miranda wandered in and 
sniffed the pot. 

"It smells hideous. You know I hate the smell of 
cooking onions. It stinks up the house for weeks. What are 
those things floating in it?" 

She stabbed at the soup with the wooden spoon. 

So much for tainting the soup. Aaron went on to the 
other dishes. He blanched the peppers in olive oil and pushed 
them out of their skins. He stir-fried the snow peas with the 
fantastic curry. He carefully tore apart arugula, escarole, 
endive, and romaine lettuce for the green salad. He added 
cucumber, scallions, and a couple of Roma tomatoes for color. 
The pureed peppers combined with balsamic vinegar and extra- 
virgin olive oil made the dressing. He beat eggs, neufchatel, 
vanilla and sugar together to make flan, a Spanish egg custard. 


He split the avocado and filled it with garnet sauce. The turkey 
aroma wafted through the house. 

Miranda wandered in and out of the room, poking at the 
food and making faces. 

Aaron's tolerance was deteriorating as Miranda scoffed 
at every dish. A little blue vein pulsed on his forehead each 
time Miranda proclaimed her distaste. He was running out of 

"In the M&M's?" he wondered aloud. 

Through the din of his cluttered head, Aaron heard the 
toilet flush and the bathroom door open. He noticed with 
exasperation that she didn't wash her hands — again. Miranda 
walked into the kitchen for more Kool-aid and Aaron knew 
what he must do. 

Once Miranda was back on the couch and thoroughly 
engrossed in "her show," Aaron sneaked past the living room. 

His body thrummed with adrenaline as he walked with 
a calculated nonchalance to their bedroom. Aaron felt for the 
pull chain. Where was it? Finally, he found it, and the miser 
bulb illuminated their — her closet. Aaron studied the frilly 
garments and looked at the pile of shoes. At last count there 
were thirty-one pairs. Would Goodwill make a house pickup 
when she was gone? 

Aaron saw her senior yearbook, and began to leaf 
through it. He remembered, flipping through black and white 
photos, why he had loved Miranda in the beginning. 

She had such a pretty smile, and a perfect flip at the 
bottom of her hair. Aaron used to tell his friends that he liked 
her for much more than her looks. He loved to brag about how 
she volunteered with the kids at the hospital and still had time 
to go with him to dinner at his grandmother's house. 

He was especially proud that she could really carry a 
decent conversation. So few girls could do that. 

"So what happened?" Aaron wondered, as he sighed 
and closed the book. 

Aaron climbed the stepladder and saw the pink mink. 


Next to it, in a little powder-blue dish, was the turkey fat. It 
had been sitting out for hours. Aaron sniffed and wrinkled his 
nose. It was definitely off. It should do the trick. The turkey 
consumer hotline warned against letting turkey sit out of 
refrigeration for even a few hours, and this one had been in a 
hot closet. Next to a pink mink! 

He took the fat into the bathroom and dipped his index 
and middle fingers into the bowl. Like an accomplished artist, 
he spread a thin coat of grease on the toilet handle. It really did 
not feel much different from regular oils or shortening, but 
Aaron chuckled at the deadly difference. 

"Serves her right for not washing her hands after. And 
it serves her right for all these damn geese," he said. 

"It's funny how you never learn these things until you 
are married to someone. Things used to be so much different. 
I thought that marrying the homecoming queen was a real 
reward. It makes me sad that her personality deteriorated with 
her looks. She'll never know what hit her," he said as he 
washed his hands three times in hot water and anti-bacterial 

When Aaron called Miranda into the dining room, she 
took one look at the candles and flicked on the overhead light. 
Aaron pulled out a chair for Miranda, so she pulled out the one 
next to it and sat down. 

Even this behavior did nothing to dim Aaron's spirits. 
He savored every drop of his leek soup — it was a Martha 
Stewart Recipe. The salad was delectable; he closed his eyes 
and inhaled the pungent pepper and balsamic vinegar 
dressing's aroma. 

He ignored Miranda, who was pushing everything back 
and forth and around in an attempt to look busy. 

He carved the turkey, brown and fragrant, and was 
pleasantly surprised that it came out so moist. He ate the 
turkey and kasha pilaf stuffing and thought of Martha Stewart 
and how proud she would be. His fantasies were fulfilled when 
he tasted the forbidden curried snowpeas. 

Aaron was so involved in the act of eating that he 


almost forgot Miranda was there. She watched him murmur 
and sigh, and close his eyes and experience flavors and tex- 

"You don't even sigh like that when I put on my 
Victoria's Secret's teddy," she whimpered, seeming very sad. 
Her sadness turned to anger fairly quickly when she noticed 
that Aaron didn't notice. 

"Why can't you cook normal food?" she asked, "This 
tastes like shit!" 

Aaron opened his eyes. He studied Miranda very 
carefully, as if she were a rare insect under glass. 

He saw the stylish hair, dark at the roots. He saw the 
fastidiously applied makeup, a bit smeared around the eyes and 
mouth. He saw the angora sweater with a Kool-aid stain on the 
left breast. 

It was droopier than it used to be. 

"Eat some turkey, sweetie," Aaron murmured. "You 
like turkey, remember? It was your favorite at Thanksgiving." 

Miranda looked at Aaron through mascara- smeared 
eyes and picked a piece of skin off the turkey. She nibbled at it 
and a little glob of grease dribbled down her chin. 

Aaron wiped it off with his napkin and smiled at 

Miranda excused herself, and Aaron had a dish of flan 
with kahlua topping. He ate tiny bites, feeling every mouthful 
and giving it his full attention. When the flan was gone, Aaron 
ran his finger around the rim of the bowl, his bowl. It was a 
very pretty Chinese bowl, with trees and pagodas. 

"I like pretty things," Aaron whispered. 

Now all there was to do was wait. Aaron washed the 
dishes, pots, pans, and kitchen gadgets that contributed to his 
piece de resistance. 

Miranda watched six television shows in a row, and 
Aaron smiled to hear the toilet flush between episodes. 
Miranda ate the remaining pound and three quarters of 

When she came into the kitchen with a stomachache, 


Aaron was very sympathetic. 

"Miranda, you probably just ate too much. It was good, 
wasn't it! Here's some Pepto." He thrilled inside to see her 
choke down the chalky pink. 

An hour later, when she was sweaty, pale, and cramp- 
ing, Aaron stroked her forehead. 

"Oh, my little goose. Maybe next time you won't eat 
two pounds of chocolate. If you don't feel better in the morn- 
ing, we'll call the doctor." 

Aaron tucked Miranda in and kissed her sweaty fore- 

He climbed into bed next to her, turned off his bedside 
lamp, and fell asleep. 

Obsessive Compulsive 

Karen Gwinner 



Jennifer L. Cohen 

Patty's Coming 

Mary O'Sako 

The peak of Marcy's initial excitement over the fresh 
news of her sister's impending visit took a downward spiral as 
she stared at the Justin Elementary School Calendar on her 
refrigerator door. She'd circled April fifth with red ink, and 
now it glared in mocking contrast to the white of the page. 
Two weeks Marcy, two weeks, it may as well have shouted to 
her. "Oh, no!" Marcy wailed. "Only two weeks?! Oh, hell 

She fingered the edge of the latest canvas upon which 
she'd been painting and looked around the room frantically. 
The entire house bore the evidence of her family's hectic lives 
like a cluttered vaudeville stage after a long night of perfor- 
mances. Half of the kitchen table currently served as lab to 
Mathew's science project, Sarah's scout uniforms were still 
piled in a basket by the table awaiting alterations, and David's 
daily newspapers were crammed to bursting beneath the sofa. 


Marcy herself was equally guilty, with the brushes, tubes and 
bottles of her craft piled haphazardly in the corner of the room 
like the spoils of a rummage sale. 

"Well, Scarlet, you can't just think about this tomorrow 
or you will go crazy!" Marcy soliloquized. The cuckoo clock 
above the mantle chimed eleven. She had exactly three hours 
until the bus dropped off her children and six until David 
pulled into the driveway. Let's hit it! Without pausing to 
remove the dried paint from her fingers, she scooped up a pile 
of half empty paint tubes and tossed them into a box, then 
hauled several bundles of David's old newspapers out to the 
car. The sight of the vacuum cleaner sent Edward, their mutt, 
slinking up the stairs in search of more tranquil surroundings. 
"Traitor!" she yelled after him. 

As Marcy cleaned, she scrolled through that morning's 
conversation with her sister in her mind, trying to weigh the 
contents and sift through the details. Something more than the 
tiny wave of excitement over the arrival of a houseguest of her 
sister's magnitude was swelling inside her. 

"Hey, Marcy! Guess what?" 


"I'm finally coming to visit you, sweetie!" 

"Sure, sure you are," Marcy snickered and balanced the 
phone on one shoulder while she added a dab of dark color to 
the center of some sunflowers she was painting. "What's going 
on, Pat?" 

"I am. We are. Don has some days off from work at 
Easter, and we decided it was high time to fly out to see you 
folks! God, I'm so excited. Just think, Marcy, I finally get to 
see all of you, together, in the same room. Think of the time 
we'll have!" 

"I hope so! It's been too long. Mathew and Sarah have 
grown so tall! And David and I are just getting on with it. 
Wait, are you sure you and Don don't have some other 
foreign locale to jet-set off to?" 

"Cute. No , sister, we have no prominent commitment 
except you. Don't you think it's time? I'm ashamed we 


haven't made it thus far! And I'll bet you look fabulous! Just 
think, we can go to the movies together, shop. . .the beach! 
You guys do have access to a beach out there somewhere?" 

"Of course we do, although it's a little cool yet. But it's 
great for walking. This is so, so. . . I just can't believe you're 
coming!" She smeared more dark paint into the sunflower and 
smoothed it out toward the edges to add a shadow to the garden 
she'd painted. 

"Well, we are, and you're on! Just tell that handsome 
husband of yours to move over 'cause here we come!" 

What's it been, Patty, five years? Six? She mused as 
she dusted the framed pictures in the dining room. She paused 
over Patty and Don's wedding photo. Her sister was a sleek, 
golden creature clinging gracefully to Don's arm. "Don, 
who'd ever thought," she sighed wistfully before returning the 
portrait into its nest atop the buffet with the others. 

The beach, you always did love the beach, Patty, and 
why not? She paused in front of the full length mirror in their 
bedroom and put down the clothes basket she'd been carrying 
on her hip. You have that olive complexion from Dad, while I, 
she peered closely at her face, am Mommy's girl, freckled 
marshmallow all the way. 

Marcy removed her top and pants and studied herself 
more closely. She had become too comfortable of late in her 
thirty-five year old skin, and she was forever postponing the 
inevitable diet. She told herself there was always tomorrow, or 
that David never complained, or they were just plain too busy. 
The body in the mirror told a different tale, a sobering one of 
too many helpings and too many Friday night pizzas. 

Marcy let down her tangled mass of red hair and 
thought about Patty's own black tresses. A long forgotten 
summer afternoon came to her suddenly. Patty was laughing 
and running down the beach on legs that were tanned perfec- 
tion. She was in pursuit of Don, the bodyguard, who'd stolen 
her towel. "Help me get him, Dave !" Patty had squealed, her 
hair streaming down her back in an ebony waterfall. David, 
whom Marcy had recently begun dating, stared after them with 


a wolf-like grin as he sat quietly with Marcy beneath the shade 
of an umbrella. Marcy listened to their cavorting with ever- 
reddening ears while she sketched in the sand. She was steam- 
ing beneath that umbrella, a T-shirt protecting her skin and the 
frizz of her hair caught up in a ponytail. 

Marcy swallowed and turned to the right and then left 
to examine her profile. Her breasts were fine, but things were a 
veritable down-hill sled ride from there. Her belly, streaked 
lightly with silver stretch marks and slackened with eighteen 
months of childbearing, hung softly over the tops of her panties 
while her thighs and buttocks took up the slack below. 

"Two weeks," Marcy muttered and pulled her sweats 
back on. She slid a box of loose photos from beneath the bed, 
digging until she found the most recent one of Patty. It was the 
one taken two years ago on the beach in California: the one 
where she looked like an exotic creature from Bora-Bora or 
somewhere; the one David had whistled long over when he'd 
pulled it from the Christmas card they'd sent. "You're on," she 

"But, Mom, why'd you stick it on the fridge?" asked 
Sarah that afternoon, her hazel eyes huge beneath hair as bright 
as Marcy' s. 

"It's so she'll know we've been thinking of her," 
Marcy lied. 

"Weird," Mathew snickered before galloping from the 
room with Edward close on his heels. 

"Weird? Noway. Aren't there enough pictures on 
display through the rest of the house? Besides, I consider the 
fridge a place of honor. It's where I put your stuff." 

Sarah shrugged politely, her attention already shifting 
gears in the chameleon way of eight year olds. She kissed the 
back of Marcy' s hand with a loud smack and skipped away. 
Marcy raised her eyebrows and gritted her teeth. 

"To all of us, a dish to prove my worthiness of certain 
worldly palates," she giggled and toasted the photo with a 
package of tofu, which she deftly began to hack into. Tofu. 
The truth was Marcy had never laid hands on tofu until that 


afternoon, when she'd sped across the street to the Food King 
to make it her sole purchase after having seen it on a cooking 
show. The celebrity chef who'd handled it had been of "world 
class status" the invisible announcer had assured his television 
audience. "World class," Marcy repeated slowly. Soon she 
was well into the process of creating a low calorie, gourmet 
delight that she was certain would dazzle her family's taste 
buds. Marcy began to whistle. Patty and Don are certainly 
'world class' in their existence, flying all over with that job of 

"It's stir-fry, with tofu" Marcy explained proudly at 
dinner. She carefully placed the evening's masterpiece on the 
center of the table before her speechless family. "I got it 
straight from The Fabulous Chefs of America. It's a world 
class dish." 

"Is it burnt?" Mathew asked, squinting up at her with 
his father' s brown eyes as a pungent odor laced the steam from 
Marcy' s masterpiece, saturating the space around them. 

"No, it isn't burned. I most certainly would not serve 
you anything that was not cooked to perfection," she responded 
with false cheer, glancing across the table to where David, still 
in his shirt and tie from work, was leaning over a Mechanics 
magazine propped conspicuously against his dish. "It's very 
tasty, you'll see!" She kicked at David's foot. 

"Oh, yeah. Hey, I hear Arnold eats this stuff every 
night out in Hollywood!" He boomed emphatically without 
looking up. Mathew and Sarah shuddered beneath a spell of 
noisy laughter. 

"I bet Aunt Patty likes this stuff; you can cook it for her 
when she comes, Mom! She lives in California like a real 
movie-star!" Sarah announced with a huge grin. 

"She sure does," David murmured, sliding his magazine 
under his seat. 

"Yes," Marcy agreed, trying not to wince over her first 

David finally felt the daggers she was throwing him 
with her eyes. He also took a bite and began to cough. He 


grabbed his water and quickly swallowed several mouthfuls 
while Marcy glared at him over the jostling forms of the 
children. He smiled sheepishly. 

"Well, this is the best tofu stir-fry I've ever eaten," 
Marcy chirped. 

After giving in to an added entree of tuna fish sand- 
wiches for the kids, Marcy cursed Dave silently when he 
retreated to the den to plant his male-thin buttocks in his 
chair. She hurriedly rinsed the last plate and crammed the 
dishwasher full to the explosion point. 

"You guys want to earn some money?" Marcy bent 
over Sarah and Mathew's prone forms in front of the televi- 

"Yes!" Sarah answered brightly while Mathew 

"All right then. Your rooms, clean 'em. Maybe start 
with your dresser drawers first. I will be in to inspect when 
you are finished. Now, go or you won't have time for your 
favorite show later!" Sarah jumped up immediately, the tiny, 
plastic animal she'd been dissecting falling from her body like 
bright rain. She skipped lightly ahead of her trudging brother 
on their way up the stairs. 

Marcy turned off the television and faced David alone. 

"Lot needs done around here, don't you think, babyV 

"Certainly," he mumbled, flicking his gaze from news- 
paper, to her, then back again in the time it takes a cloud to flit 
over the moon. Marcy edged over to where he sat and jerked 
lightly on the corner of his paper. 

"I'm going out for a walk, Dad. Would you mind 
watching over your spawn and the house for an hour please?" 

"Walk? Isn't it getting dark?" he observed absently. 

"Yes. You gonna fess up and play ball?" 

"All you had to do was ask." He frowned and scratched 
at his short beard. 

"I am." 

"Thought you were going to paint." 

"Later," Marcy yelled over her shoulder. She closed 


the door softly behind her. 

Marcy headed for Justin Memorial Park, where she 
sweated the first of many nights of laps around the lake, ignor- 
ing her rumbling belly and the number of svelte runners who 
bounded like a herd of gazelle past a lumbering water buffalo. 
An enviably thin girl with long, black hair like Patty's brushed 
into her as she glided by. 

"Sorry," she breathed back at Marcy. 

"S'okay," Marcy huffed. Miss hair and ass! Her face 
reddened and she thought about Patty. 

"We '11 be like two peas in a pod. Blood friends forever, 
Marcy. " Patty's ten-year-old voice sang sweetly in her ear. 
Marcy had then watched anxiously as Patty blossomed ahead 
of her, outgrowing her. She went from a pony-tailed bosom 
buddy into a Cleopatra almost overnight, leaving Marcy to 
flounder alone. 

"Your sister is too cool," David had told her the first 
night she'd brought him home to meet her family. 

"Cool," Marcy muttered. She chugged along painfully 
until a cold breeze that smelled of rain sent her home. 

Later that evening, when they were alone and she and 
David had finished stowing the last child away for the night, he 
asked if she would join him in just a "tiny" scoop of vanilla ice 

"No way," she answered through a tiny yawn. She 
leaned against the sink, narrowing her eyes and waiting. He 
paused before Patty's languid figure before retrieving the tub 
of ice cream from the freezer. 

"Sure?" He held a loaded bowl toward her. 

"Yes, I'm sure. I'm watching." 


"My weight. I've grown softer than I ever thought I'd 
be. Besides, don't you think it's time you had the sex-kitten, 
beach-bunny type you've always secretly yearned for?" 

"What?" David sputtered in an effort to keep from 
laughing. White droplets clung to his beard like milk. Marcy 
automatically handed him a napkin. 


"You laugh?" 

"I'm sorry Marcy, it's the way you said it, that's all." 
He mopped at his beard and winked before returning to the den 
where he slid back into his chair. Marcy followed close behind. 
"Don't worry, if you keep cooking stuff like that there tofu, 
something tells me we will all be dropping weight like bad 

"I liked my tofu stir-fry. It was very, very haute 
couture. " 

"Very what ?" His eyes crinkled in amusement. 

Marcy ignored him and continued, "It's easy for you, 
isn't it, Mr. Tight-Buns ?" She slapped his thigh. 

"Whatever. Guess the kids and I are an unsophisticated 
bunch, strictly meat and potatoes," he mumbled around the last 
large spoonful. 

"Well, I suppose I can spare you-all. But I'm going to 
stay on the race track. My sister will see she isn't the only one 
with chic." 


"Never mind." 

"Well, just don't lose too much of this, my tofu-queen," 
he patted her rear and put down his bowl. "I like it." 

Marcy snatched the bowl from her recently oiled coffee 
table and reached with her free hand to tug at his beard. 

"Well , you should lose a lot of this. I don't think my 
sister and her husband are into lycanthropy, darling." 



"Touche ," he whispered before retrieving his magazine 
and propping his feet. Marcy didn't hear. She'd gone to pull 
out her box of acrylics and the half colored canvas. It was a 
commission from Mrs. Spencer next door. 

"Put a real heavy looking cow in the middle of a gar- 
den; I want everyone who eats at my table to notice it!" Mrs. 
Spencer had told her the previous week. I'll make it heavy all 
right, thought Marcy. She glanced back into the den where 
David's magazine obliterated his face, then fished out a tube 


from which she squeezed a puddle of black onto her clean 
palette, thus allowing the painting to encompass her until long 
after he'd gone to bed and the only semblance of life left in the 
room was Edward, who lay stretched out beneath her chair 
until she put away the last brush and turned off the lights. 

Patty's long, tanned phantom held court over Marcy's 
activities for the next several days. Marcy managed to keep 
her at bay with furious hours of dusting, rearranging, 
mopping, and jogging. She took the children with her on her 
forced journey to reassess order in her house: one night they 
sorted clothing, the next it was toys. And always they 
responded to her nightly forays with assorted grumbling while 
David followed along aimlessly, allowing Marcy to give him 
the occasional nudge with a nonchalance that made her stom- 
ach tighten. Marcy felt dizzy with relief when she'd finally 
coaxed him into finishing minor repairs in the guest bathroom. 

"Here," she reached to steady the towel rack he was 
tightening. "Do you think it's straight?" 

"Of course it is." He pressed into the screwdriver as it 
whined to a stop before setting up the next screw. 

"Are you sure? You wouldn't want to commit to a 
finish and find it's crooked, would you?" 

David paused and looked at her tiredly. "Take it easy, 
Marcy. You're the one who wanted to tear the place apart. 
I'm doing the best I can. I checked, and it is straight. I 
wouldn't have put it up if it weren't. Have a little faith, would 

"Sorry, I'm, I'm just nervous about Patty's coming and 
I want things to look their best," she sighed. 

"I know, I know." He shook his head and leaned into 
the task once more. 

Something in the quivering slant of his shoulder 
brought back the night she'd first seen Patty with Don. Marcy 
had spent that smoldering afternoon straightening her hair and 
had finished by pulling on her new hot pink blouse. Hot pink, 
it had been the latest fad in teendom that summer, and Marcy 
felt it had been discovered for her alone. When Don had 


finished mowing her parents' lawn out back, she was ready. 
She'd tip-toed breathlessly down the back stairs only to find 
them wrapped tightly together against the pantry wall. Patty 
and Don, her Don, together. And they'd never even seen her. 
She stayed just long enough to see Patty's hair become en- 
meshed in his moving form, some of the long strands 
sticking to his moist shoulder like tentacles. 

Marcy retreated to the kitchen where Sarah was color- 
ing a "Welcome Aunt Patty and Uncle Don" poster. She 
fingered her orange tresses and watched Sarah's busily 
pumping fingers smudge Patty's name across the page in bright 

'That's perfect, honey," she commented softly before 
turning to pull out the fixings for that evening's dinner. 

"Are we eating gloom again?" Sarah asked in a high 

"What ? Oh! Nope, just plain old throw in the oven 
chicken. And that's gourmet, Sarah, not gloom" Marcy began 
to rip the skin from the chicken she was preparing. 

"Mathew says it's gloom," Sarah muttered primly. The 
phone rang before Marcy could reply. It was her mother. She 
set the baking sheet down loudly and listened to her mother 
talk about the weather, Dad's gout, and the last bridge game 
before she finally intervened. 

"Mom, have you talked to Patty?" 

"Oh, yes and she's so excited about coming out there to 
New Hampshire, dear. It's great you girls can get finally 
together. I can't believe that either of you couldn't have gotten 
yourselves up for the trip long before this. And you were so 
close as children. I just don't know about you kids," she 

"Yes, I know what you mean. Listen, when did you last 
see Patty? We were so excited I forgot to ask her how they 
were. She looked okay, didn't she? Everything is fine with 
them?" Marcy spoke quickly, taking tiny nibbles of celery in 
between sentences. 

"What? Oh, Patty looks gorgeous; she always does. 


That's so nice to worry about your sister like this, but really, 
Marcy, they are fine. Don is still climbing the ladder and all, 
and you know how they like to live high off the hog! Now 
what's this all about?" 

"Nothing. Like you said, I was worried. Well, yeah, 
great, I am glad to hear that all is okay," she answered weakly. 
"It's just been such a long time since I've seen her, that's all." 

"Well, you always were a worry-wart." 
Yeah, a real worry-wart all right, Marcy thought 
dismally as David rushed through the kitchen with his tool box 
and slammed the door to the garage closed behind him. 

That evening, Marcy stayed an extra hour at the park, 
walking out her last mile and relishing the slice of moon that 
wavered in and out of view behind black, stubborn clouds. 
When she got home the lights in the den were dimmed and 
David was sitting erect on the sofa. A cup of fragrant coffee 
was steaming on a coaster before him. 

"Did you have a good run?" David spoke quietly and 
pointed to the sleeping form of Sarah, her body curled up and 
covered before the silent television set. Marcy smiled and 
nodded. She knelt and wanned her hands on his cup. 

"Sarah was worried so I let her stay up." 

"Thank you." 

"You gonna paint awhile?" He leaned back into the 
sofa, his freshly shaven face half illuminated by the light from 
the lamp. Marcy swallowed. His chin, buried for so long, was 
strong and angular beneath the kind slant of his lip. All of his 
features seemed to blend in a pale, almost painterly way she'd 
long forgotten. 

"Yes," she answered quickly and felt herself blush. She 
turned her face away and touched the tip of Sarah's toe. 

"I'll get her." David rose and lifted Sarah's limp form. 

"Thanks, David," Marcy breathed. He nodded and 
moved heavily towards the stair, Sarah's bright head dangling 
from his shoulder. Edward stretched from his spot beneath the 
coffee table and trotted slowly after them. "Edward?" she 
called and clicked her tongue. Edward paused. Glancing back, 


he wagged his tail apologetically before ambling on. Traitor. 
Marcy finished David's coffee when he didn't return and 
pulled out her paints. 

The afternoon before Patty and Don's scheduled arrival 
came swiftly. Marcy found a quiet moment after dinner to slip 
into her bathroom for the long anticipated private inventory 
before the mirror. She stripped and stared at her reflection. 
Her stomach seemed less protuberant, but to her it only accen- 
tuated the bubble in her rear. She stepped on the scale for the 
first time in almost two weeks and waited for the red needle to 
catch on one of the magic numbers swaying behind it. When it 
finally settled, she stared in disbelief. Only five pounds! She 
stepped off, then on again. She quickly dressed and retrieved a 
five pound bag of sugar from the kitchen and placed it on the 
scales. Five pounds. She weighed herself a third time. Finally, 
she sighed and donned her sweats. 

"Can we come?" Mathew and Sarah chorused, bound- 
ing on coltish pre-teen legs when they saw her emerge from the 
bedroom, tennis shoes in hand. David joined them from the 
kitchen, wiping his hands on a damp dish towel. 


"You sure?" David smiled. "They might hold you 

"I'm sure. Besides, I think they'll be miles ahead by 
the time I finish." 

"C'mon, Mom!" Mathew bellowed. 

"All right, all ready," Marcy yelled back. She sat 
heavily beside David on the sofa, tucking her feet reluctantly 
into her shoes, distantly aware of the news that had been 
flashing quietly on the television. It signed off in a flash of 
light and an info-mercial took its place. An actress whose 
name Marcy couldn't recall was touting the praises of being a 
real woman with real curves. She stood regally in front of a 
wardrobe of brightly colored sweaters and blouses, advertising 
her latest string of fashions for full figured women, guaranteed 
to take ten pounds from your appearance. Marcy paused, 
entranced. The fuzzy sweaters and sleek black pants did make 


the models look more slender than their before shots. "Avail- 
able now at your local mall merchant," the beaming actress 
assured her television audience . 

"David, I forgot, I have an errand to run," Marcy 
announced suddenly. She tugged eagerly at the laces of the 
last shoe. 

"Errand?" he echoed, his eyebrows arched painfully on 
his forehead. 

"Yes, errand. I need to run to the mall for something. 
There are some last minute things I have to do. Please, would 
you mind watching the kids for a little while?" 

"Sure. I guess so." He flashed her a questioning glance. 

"Thanks, just remember, no junk food for the kids, and 
have Mathew start his bath. And try not to mess up anything, 
you guys know how long it took to get this place into shape, 
right?" David nodded and said nothing. Marcy grabbed her 
purse and kissed him on one smooth cheek, ignoring the disap- 
pointed cries from Mathew and Sarah when they stuck their 
heads in the door to see what was keeping her. 

"Hey, pick up some vanilla ice cream on your way 
back, would ya?" David's voice followed her out into the night. 

Marcy made a straight line for the nearest mall. She 
strolled purposefully through its bright corridors, ignoring the 
tempting aromas from the cookie store as she browsed the 
neighboring plate glass windows of the women's clothing 
stores. Finally, through a jungle of endless anorexic-sized 
mannequins, she spotted a poster of the actress she'd just seen 
on television. 

"But, surely you don't need the plus fashions. You 
don't have much to hide, dear," a saleswoman with her hair in 
a french twist insisted when she found Marcy pawing through 
the soft, bright colors. 

"Oh, yes, I do" Marcy answered firmly, quickly choos- 
ing a fuchsia sweater. She pulled it from the rack and held it in 
front of her. 

"Well, if you insist," the saleswoman remarked blandly. 
"Now, that is a wonderful color, the fuchsia" She held up the 


sleeve of the sweater Marcy was holding. "This color has been 
around a long time. Used to be called hot pink. It can carry a 
redhead, a blonde or a brunette. But frankly, I prefer it on 
redheads," she lowered her voice and winked. "On you, dear, 
it will be a real head turner, as if it were made for you," she 
insisted. Marcy stared at the woman and nodded. She imag- 
ined herself parading through the airport to meet Patty, hus- 
band and kids in tow, and every man's head turning to stare in 
wonder when she passed by like a queen. A tofu-queen. She 
suppressed a frantic giggle. 

"I'll take it," Marcy breathed excitedly. She added 
several pairs of the dark pants and two more sweaters in green 
and white to throw into the bargain. Ready or not, here I come. 
Marcy beamed and made her way back to the car with her 
purchases clutched tightly at her side. 

The next morning came in a buzz. Marcy forced the 
kids through a rushed breakfast and refused to explain to them 
one last time why they couldn't skip school to go to the airport 
with her. She then made a quick inspection of the house and 
Edward, who'd been sulking since he'd been returned from the 
groomer's the day before. When David left to escort the kids to 
the bus stop, she ran to the bedroom and pulled the fuchsia 
sweater from her closet. It glowed like a beacon in the morn- 
ing light while she showered, gargled and perfumed. After 
spraying her hair into submission she dropped the sweater 
carefully over her head. 

"Wow," she whispered at her reflection. Not only did 
she look ten pounds lighter, but the color seemed to bring out a 
light from within her self. A stronger light. Marcy blushed 
and swept into the den where David stood waiting before the 
television set, his hands buried stiffly into the pockets of his 
pressed trousers. 

"Do you like?" Marcy gave him a wicked smile and 
spun around. 

"You look great, tofuti" David murmured. 

"Sure, real chic, right?" She stretched out her arms and 
gazed down at the sweater. 


"Sure. Are we ready now?" 

"What? Don't you like it?" Marcy's smile fell. David 
still stood with his hands in his pockets, his face solemn. She 
felt her shoulders slump within the soft fabric. 

"Of course, it's great. Are you happy with it?" 

Marcy remained silent, afraid suddenly to speak. A 
surge of tears had risen and pressed against something behind 
her eyes, threatening to break forth with her words. The clock 
chimed from its place on the wall between where they stood, 
breaking the silence. 

"Ready?" David asked, this time touching her sleeve. 
Marcy nodded. He wrapped her coat firmly around her shoul- 
ders and hugged her for a moment before opening the door 

"It's show time," he commented with awkward cheer. 
Show time, Marcy echoed silently. She stepped out into the 
cool sunlight and waited while David locked the door behind 

They drove in silence to the airport. Marcy was grate- 
ful for the chaotic hum of activity made by the strangers mov- 
ing in bunches around them. Her underarms began to drip as 
she and David stood side by side, scanning the green arrivals 

"Here!" David called out, pulling her close and point- 

"Do you see it?" Before he could answer, a loud, 
distant screech caused them to look down the long, colorfully 
crowded corridor that led to baggage claim. Marcy squinted, 
trying to sift through the crowd that moved around her like a 
wave of vertigo. Suddenly, she spotted them. An overweight 
woman in a fuchsia sweater was gesturing wildly and pulling 
an equally stout, bearded man along behind her. They wove 
their way unevenly through the crowd toward them. 

"Marcy!" the woman yelled and waved, "Marcy!" 

"Patty? DonV Marcy blurted. She glanced back at 
David, who was also staring, a tiny smile on his lips. The 
woman had dropped the man's hand and was now running 


towards them. Her long black hair streamed behind her plenti- 
ful frame. Marcy looked up at David, her eyebrows raised. 

"Go on," he pressed gently at the small of her back. 
Marcy peered back at the approaching couple. 

"Patty?" Marcy gasped, taking a small step forward, 
then pausing for a moment before racing to her sister and 
wrapping her arms around her. They stood hugging and laugh- 
ing until the others reached them. 

"Blood friends! Fellow peas, remember?" Patty 

"Oh, sister!" Marcy held Patty's face in her hands. 
"Welcome, sister, welcomel" 


Cory on the Tracks 

Des Purcell 


The Calling: 

A Personification in E Major 

You are Learning; i am learning. 

I know You, faceless, yearning as i yearn. 

I know You by Your symbols and Your 

presence in my life. 

Love, boiling in my heart for You, 

hurts and heals. I think of You when 

i am down and grow more 

depressed - or more confused - or elated. 

My love for You is bigger 

than i, and it scares and strengthens 

my brave- weak heart. 

I give all 

to You, i take all from You, 

i stand behind You, before You, 

above You or below You, 

sometimes all at once. 

You are distant, yet sometimes within 

my grasp. You hold me somehow 

with incorporeal arms when i need 

You, a beam of hope in my heart 

where no hope had shone; 

You are Love. 

Sometimes i forget You, betray You, 

lose who i am in the rush of loving You; 

the details and doing. 


Sometimes tears stream for joy 

and sometimes for sorrow when i think of You, 

Your successes or failures; both have i been, 

and both will i yet be. I take more of You 

into my heart every second; 

with every word from book, teacher, student, 

friend, foe, or stranger; 

with every bird singing some vaguely 

Mozartish tune before me or from the highway's 

hum behind; with every dark tree against a starry 

sky . . . even from myself sometimes. 

I can take from You and give to You; 

my calling is to share You. 

You are Learning; i am learning. 

Tiffanie L.C. Rogers 


Sun and Moon Tree Batik 

Dianna Ulm 

Sleeping With a Mockingbird 

Well after midnight 
He comes— and she hears him 
With his song that lulls her— 
like a secret companion. 
Lonely as she is— lonely love songs 
He brings her. 
Steadfast each evening- 
Till morning he keeps her. 
While at her side, lies a song 
With less meaning— 
The old purr of an old cat. 
Alas greater comfort, she who has taken, 
In one soulful voice; 
The one real presence 
In her solitude and darkness. 
Even the crickets, in stillness 
Have listened— 
To a mockingbird's tales 
of lost loves forgotten. 
While at her side, her lover's silence 
Shatters— Shatters her night song . . . 

Donna Ferrence 


A Sense of Family 

Danielle Argenti 

During the late winter of 1939, in a war torn Liverpool, 
England, a middle- aged couple prepared for bed. The wife, a 
staunch Catholic, modestly buttoned her nightgown as her 
husband, aching from a hard day's work, relaxed his stiff joints 
and muscles under the warm covers. The woman, Marie 
(pronounced with a British accent, "Mary"), threw a sheet over 
the mirror to cover it and completed her nightly routine. With 
the closet doors opened and all the dresser drawers closed, she 
then climbed into her side of the bed. The wind howled eerily 
outside and caused the sixty year old house, severely battered 
by Luftwaffe bombing runs, to creak like her husband's prema- 
turely aging bones. 

Marie pulled the covers up and tucked herself in as best 
she could, as she did every night, then tried to calm her nerves. 
The war had ravaged poor old England and had taken all the 
young men away, most never to return-like her brother 
Michael. It was God's grace that kept Henry out of it, she 
thought to herself and of what life would have been like with- 
out him home. Her all alone with eleven children while trying 
to exist on rations would have been intolerable. Her husband's 
snoring interrupted her thoughts. "Henry" she whispered at 
first, then "Henryl" again at a shrill. He moaned as she el- 
bowed his ribs, "For God's sake, you'll wake the dead" He 
growled something bitter about women then rolled over and 
immediately fell back asleep. His short, thick, bristly hair 
crackled against the crisp cotton sheets as he settled back into 
the pillow. She rolled to face Henry's sheltering back and 
move away from the mirror which still spooked her, even with 
it covered. 

When Marie was young she had seen a ghost in that 
mirror. She saw the image of a little girl about eight years old, 
washing her hands in the bowl next to her bed. The specter 
seemed to be smiling and happy, though the experience still 


frightened Marie into a frozen terror. She tried to put the 
mirror and the memories of her mother's old farm house out of 
her mind. Marie needed sleep. Tomorrow she had a load of 
mending to deliver so that she could collect her pittance. The 
meager amount she earned would help them survive until 
Henry's next payday. The children would be up at dawn, 
without fail. Hopefully, there wouldn't be any air raids to- 
night. After all, what could fly in this gale? She could not 
imagine any reason for her not to get a much needed eight 
hours' sleep tonight. Even the children were well, thank God, 
despite the raw, early spring weather. It took hours for her to 
unwind. Finally, she fell asleep, though a broken slumber by 
the occasional need to nudge Henry into silence. The wind 
blew harder still, hard enough to move the black-out curtains 
that hung at each window, which were made drafty by the 
almost constant shelling. She closed her eyes to the malevolent 
night and prayed silently for one good night's sleep— something 
of a luxury since the fighting began. 

Marie drifted off. She dreamt of her mother's modest 
farm, of the animals and of the big old house, of carefree days 
and of her nine siblings, of Michael, once so young and full of 

Then the scene abruptly changed. She saw May, the 
youngest of the family, as she was at present with her three 
boys in that miserable home near the docks with that wretch of 
a husband. May was nearly starved because there wasn't any 
food left in the house. Selfishly, her husband had sold the 
family's rations to buy ale at the corner pub. Her breasts could 
no longer produce enough milk to keep her six-month-old from 
hunger; she'd lost too much weight and recently developed a 
fever. The food that did come in she gave to her six-year-old, 
Paul, and to her four year old, Joseph. Despite the hardship, 
her husband was healthy enough existing on his liquid diet. 
May had tried to kick the louse out several times, only to be 
beaten until she apologized. 

Marie groaned in her sleep. She watched the dream 
scape now centered in May's barren kitchen. Marie felt as 


though she were floating on May's ceiling, watching without 
being able to participate, completely powerless and frustrated. 
May was sitting with her youngest at her empty breast; at her 
feet stood an old suitcase. Her other two sons sat bleary-eyed 
on the sofa in the next room. It was after midnight. Marie 
sensed that May was feeding the child one more time before 
venturing out on a wickedly cold night. The baby tired at her 
breast, unable to be completely satisfied, and drifted off. She 
placed the baby on the table and began to wrap him in a thick 
blanket. May rushed as she heard her drunken husband 
stumble through the door. He staggered in hours earlier than 
usual. He was bloodied from a bar fight and was in his usual 
angered delirium. 

He growled, "Just where do you think you re off to?" 

May ignored him and continued to wrap the infant. It is 
useless to try and reason with him, she thought to herself, 
you 'd get further with a brick wall. "Paul, get your coat on 
and dress your brother, " she yelled from the kitchen. 

Her husband lurched at her and shouted, "You can go, 
but you 11 not take my boys!" She backed away from the table 
knowing he'd injure the baby in his drunken rage if he came 
after her. 

Paul walked in with Joseph; "Mum, you '11 have to 
button his coat, I don't know how." Paul was afraid to enter 
the kitchen hearing his father' s voice, but knew that 
sometimes Daddy would stop hitting Mummy when he walked 

May bent to close little Joey's tight wool coat and her 
husband yanked her hair. As he began to swing wildly at her, 
she screamed, telling Paul to get the babies out of the room. 
Her husband missed most of the times he swung at her, though 
when he finally made contact, he left her slumped on the floor 

"May!" Marie shrieked from her sleep, soaked in sweat. 
Henry rolled over toward his wife and shook her. "It's just a 
dream, Marie, easy now, just a dream." He hushed her and she 


drifted back into her dream state. Marie could see May walk- 
ing through a field covered in a foot of snow, in the midst of a 
fierce blizzard. She had the baby wrapped up and buttoned 
under her coat. Little Paul was dragging the toddler by the arm 
through snow that half buried Joey's small body. May had the 
old suitcase of her few possessions in her other hand, essentials 
for the baby and clothes for the boys. They walked for miles 
against the angry wind, falling often from exhaustion brought 
on by cold and malnutrition. The sky turned from black to a 
cruel gray as dawn's earliest lights began to illuminate the 
merciless storm. The toddler couldn't walk any further so May 
carried him, too, on her back for as long as she could. Finally, 
she stumbled and looked as though close to death. 

Marie opened her eyes and sat up. The dream was so 
real that she wept. Henry woke and sat up next to her, rubbing 
his bristly chin and whispering, "What is itT Quietly, she 
cried on his broad shoulder until she could bring herself to tell 
him of her terrible nightmare. After doing so, she felt as 
though a weight had been lifted. He gave her a squeeze and a 
peck on the cheek and offered to go make her a cup of tea. She 
nodded and wiped her face as he left their bedroom. 

Thank God for Henry, she thought to herself. A hard 
man sometimes, but good to her and the children. His dry 
cynical wit and playing the piano could make the war and the 
hardship all but disappear, if only for a little while. It's a 
miracle that he didn't go off to war, she recalled. He'd gone to 
sign up and they wouldn't take him. His ear had started to 
bleed just ten minutes before he got there--/? bled like the 
dickens-- then it stopped shortly after he got home. It hadn't 
happened before or since—a miracle, I say. 

Henry worked in the kitchen brewing a particularly 
large pot of tea. He hadn't pushed back the black-out curtains 
yet, but he knew the weather called for an extra cup. 

While he was about to start up the stairs with their 
breakfast teas, he heard something he was sure was just wind at 
the front door. Still, he decided to check. He put the tray 


down on the piano and opened the door. 

May fell in. Henry caught her before she and the infant 
hit the floor. Tough little Paulie stood at the door holding baby 
brother Joey's matted hand. May was burning with fever and 
weeping as Paulie told Uncle Henry of their harrowing night. 
Though, the boy needn't have bothered. Aunt Marie had 
already told him. 

Momma's Passion 

Vickie Williams 



Robert Bell 



I shan't wear my humanity today 

This dead magic reality I will not stay 

Upon this imprisoning man skin 

I rip, tear, slice, and peel 

My true self I do unconceal. 

As two horns, piercing my head, sprout 

I praise my Creator with a joyful shout 

From my back two wings of the Pit unfold 

Cloven goat's hooves shattering my feet 

With manticore's tail my transformation be 'plete. 

Nightmare and monster exult I 
And in this computer world demons never die 

A tomb is my bed and a skull my pillow 

Shielding me from the burning, blasting sun 

This eye of gods I despise and shun. 

By the light of Mother Moon I sing and dance 

With the dead and damned a merry prance 

Darkness and mystery my eternal lot 

Humans! What do I care for thee? 

Reveling in my cursed, joyous deviltry. 

Michael Williams 


Marianne II 

Setona Page 


Deities' Debate 

I. So Sayeth the Demon 

II. God's Answer 

Embrace the darkness, 
for it hides your tears. 
Flee the light 
that illuminates fears. 

I am the beacon 

that leads to Life Eternal. 

I am the builder 

Of Satan's grand inferno. 

Hold close the shadows, 
for no secrets do they hold. 
They touch and caress, 
and never do they scold. 

I make no broken promises 
For my sheep to hold dear, 
But make your choices wisely, 
For Judgment Day is near. 

Turn out the sunshine 
that reflects all truth. 

Shy from its beams 
that chase away youth. 

Choose a world of darkness 
Where each corner holds true 

Or turn to light and purity 
Where Eternity is to gain. 

Kneel with your brothers, 

smiling at precious death, 
taking communion 

from dark and warming 

Embrace the darkness, and flee 

the light — 
I cannot save you there. 
But kiss the sunshine, and join 

the fight — 
Eternal love we'll share. 

Not even He, 

in all immaculate wealth, 

can abate your fears 

or save you from yourself. 

Never can the Prince of Dark- 
With his poison tongue, 
Offer more than sin to you 
In his heap of dung. 


Embrace my darkness 
for it hides your tears. 
Flee His light 
that illuminates fears. 

Judgment Day is coming. 
Are you lamb or 

Life Eternal is yours and 

So sayeth the demon. 

I am your beacon, 

Your path to Life Eternal. 

I alone can save you 

From Satan's grand inferno. 

Judgment Day is coming. 

Are you Bohemian or Lamb? 

Do you seek the path of light? 
That is what I am. 

Billy Parker 



Mary O'Sako 

"Now, Precious. You must be still," Gregor warned 

Precious nodded and looked out across the lake from 
where she and Gregor sat hunched at the base of an ancient oak 
tree, shielded by a round of gardenia bushes. A ripe moon was 
just beginning to scale the murky landscape, and its reflection 
spread like the long, white bones of a hand across the water 
towards where they squatted. Precious jiggled her thin legs 
beneath her skirt, now and then plucking at a gardenia blossom 
and casting its pale petals out onto the water where they floated 
as weightless as time. 

Gregor leered at her with a patronizing grin before 
settling his back against the mossy surface of the tree. 

"You'll scare 'em all away with all those sounds you're 
making. Then what? We'll have to sit here most of the night 
with nothing to do. You know very well what a flagrant waste 
the wasting of time is. We may even be forced into turning in 
empty at the end, and you know how painful that can be!" 

Precious shrugged and fiddled with a fresh sprig of 
flowers. She tore away a fragrant blossom and buried her face 
in it, then chewed thoughtfully on a petal as she stared up at the 
stars through curtains of Spanish moss. Across the pond the 
moon hung in full view, having reached a point above the 
tallest of the elms and maples, turning them into heaping 
mounds of silver. It's perfect, of course. It always is. She 
sighed to no one. 

"Can you remember back, Gregor, to the last time we 
came here?" 

"Please, keep the din to a minimum, Precious, your 


voice can carry," he scolded in a deep whisper. 

"I am." She threw him a sharp look and scooted farther 
out onto the cool grass to snatch up a fat earthworm, twirling it 
around a time-yellowed fingernail before tossing it off into the 
water where it landed with a perfunctory smack. Gregor shook 
his head in response to the smattering of bullfrogs that fol- 

"Gregor? It's okay to whisper, isn't it? You used to 
whisper plenty to me. Tell me if you remember. It's impor- 
tant, to me anyhow. Do you remember?" 

"Why do you ask such nonsensical questions, Pre- 
cious? Why is it so important to you?" 

"Not nonsensical. I can remember. I do. I can remem- 
ber a time when we were more. . . I don't know, filled with 
each other, I suppose." Precious sighed wistfully and slid back 
towards Gregor' s emaciated form, where she could see his 
profile cut into the darkness. A profile once so very elegant, 
with high forehead and creamy skin, it was now hawk-like and 
sallow; and when he looked at her, it was with green eyes that 
had faded to a watery gray. Precious smiled sadly and toyed 
with the grimy collar of his coat until he pushed her hand 
gently away. 

"I do repulse you! I knew it. You said we'd love 
forever, no matter what. You once even said you'd kiss my 
wrinkles when I got them." She folded her arms tightly. 

"Precious, what am I to do? You always start out like 
this, so restless. Can we not enjoy the evening in peace? Why 
must I constantly remind you of how things are and will be, 
while you dredge up things that are no more? Be patient and 
be still, you know you must keep still if you are to come with 
me. You know how important this is," he finished solemnly. 
His features softened at her pouty countenance, "Come now, 
Precious, it won't be much longer now. I know how deep the 
restlessness lies, believe me. But the full moon always brings 
them, we both just have to be patient." He patted her knee 
roughly and looked back out at the water. Precious gave him a 


small perfunctory smile and folded her hands loosely in her 

A couple emerged from the shadow of trees across the 
lake and strolled slowly along the path that led around its 
circumference. They stopped suddenly and the man pulled his 
companion closer until their faces met and became one in the 
half-light. Precious raised her fingers to her own parched lips 
and watched them closely until they finally parted and turned 
away to walk off across the field, hand in hand. She leaned 
heavily against Gregor. 



"Don't you miss it?" 

"Miss what?" he sighed, suppressing a grimace. 

"Don't you miss those deep kisses we used to share? 
So lovely, like what they were just doing," she nodded towards 
the path the couple had taken. 

"What? We aren't like them anymore." 

"You know what I mean. The way we used to kiss 
made me feel. . ." 


"Pretty! It made me feel pretty" she finished, brushing 
away an insect that was feeling its way up the length of her 


"Oh, never mind, you old ogre!" Precious crawled a 
short distance away. She tugged at the front of her skirt and a 
large piece of the hem gave way and fluttered to the ground. 
She picked up the mildewed fragment and held it in front of 
her. Pink, I can remember pink. She closed her eyes tightly 
and pulled from the dank recesses of her memory the essence 
of an evening. A long ago evening like this one, the night was 
fresh, it was early June. Oh and the dress, my beautiful pink 
dress, it fit so well. . .and Gregor, how his eyes did light in his 
face when he saw me move across the lawn towards him. And I 
was, yes, I was pretty. . . 

The faint crunching sound of approaching footsteps 


drifted easily to them through the still air. Gregor leaned 
forward, Precious tensed. It was a young man, hands in pock- 
ets, whistling a vaguely familiar tune. Please go away, not yet, 
not yet. I'm not ready to leave yet. Don 't let him near here, 
leave us alone a little longer, please. Precious counted her 
breaths silently. One, two, three, four. The young man 
reached the park bench a mere hundred yards from where they 
sat. He turned there, where the path forked, and headed up the 
slope towards the parking area. 

Four, he left on the count of four, a good solid number, 
a good omen. But that song he was whistling, I know a song 
like that, I know it. . .what was it, oh something, something 
wonderfidl Precious propped her chin in her hand and shut her 
eyes once more. 

A phantom orchestra played to her with haunting 
familiarity, softly titillating with its repetition of the piece until 
her mind retrieved firmly the words that went with it. "Heaven, 
Vm in heaven, and my heart beats so that I can hardly speak; 
I seem to find the happiness I seek, when we're out together 
dancing cheek to cheek. .. " 

It was Gregor and she, dancing in the Blue Pelican Ball 
Room, where they waltzed and did the Charleston for hours 
on end. That had been so very long ago, but it came to her like 
it was yesterday. Gregor had been so debonair in his tuxedo 
with his dark hair brushed back and his eyes green and blazing. 
She'd felt as light as a rose petal moving within his iron em- 
brace, and her long pink skirt had swished delightfully around 
her ankles. So completely and utterly happy they'd felt that 
night, so filled with each other that they had vowed to live in 
each other' s sight forever. 

"Forever." Precious savored the word as it tumbled 
from her lips and dissolved into the atmosphere. She opened 
her eyes to the quiet pressure of bone-hard fingers on her 



"Precious, what are you doing?" 


"Oh, Gregor. I was just thinking backwards." 

"Thinking backwards?" 

"Reminiscing. About how we'd danced all night long 
at the Blue Pelican Ball Room? Oh, to be like that again, to 
feel like thatl" 

"You mean you were dreaming? Now?" his voice 

Precious nodded and returned hesitantly to his side 
where she lay her head on his shoulder. Gregor stiffened. A 
dog barked from some distant back yard and was immediately 
silenced by the incoherent command of its master. 

"You were supremely handsome in your black suit. It 
made your eyes look so green, you know, like deep emerald 

"Please. Don't do this, Precious. The time, don't 
forget the time." 

"No, I haven't. But you have," she commented softly. 
She reached with a trembling hand and touched his cheek 
before sitting up and facing away from him. A bat's erratic 
flight caught their attention as it squeaked above their heads. It 
dove and ricocheted from tree to tree as if seeking escape from 
its self-induced flight plan. 

"Deep emerald pools, eh?" 

"Oh, certainly, love." She stretched and threw him a 
smoldering look. "Why else do you think I've stayed here at 
your side for so long, my ogre?" 

They looked at each other and laughed. It was a rusty 
sound, like the opening of a long abandoned gate. Afterwards 
they sat in silence for long while, aware of the distant drone of 
traffic from the new freeway, and the occasional buzz of 
mosquitoes as they passed by, searching for warm flesh to feed 

The loud slam of a car door accompanied by the happy 
shout of a child from across the entranceway to the park caused 
both Gregor and Precious to blink. 

"Do you ever think we may have had that, Gregor? 
Before, you know?" 


"Had what?" 

"You mean to say you never saw us with a child, a 

"Precious, I saw only our lives! You are my family, 
and there was only one choice for us and you know this. We 
could have been sedentary and mundane, resting our brittle 
bones on some pastel lawn furniture in a place like Boca Raton 
with the rest of the decaying, sipping watered drinks and 
chasing them with medicines for this and that, and all the time 
wondering where our lives went. Our short, little lives. I mean, 
why rehash all of this now, all this melancholy rot on this, our 
sole night out of the year?" His voice cut deeply through the 
warm air like the cool blade of a razor. 

Precious bowed her head. A small sob escaped her. 
She touched the back of one gnarled hand to her eye; it came 
back dry. She allowed the song to creep back into her con- 
scious. She felt the words form in her throat, and her vocal 
chords, long rusted from disuse, picked them up. "Heaven, I'm 
in heaven, and my heart beats so. . ." the words become lost in 
the dry weeping that choked her. She stopped and covered her 
face with both hands. 

Gregor moved close and placed an arm around her 
shoulders and for awhile Precious' dwindling cries were 
echoed only by the crickets. She squeezed Gregor' s hand as 
she fought silently for control. 

Footsteps were borne once again from across the lake. 
Gregor released Precious' hand slowly and leaned forward to 
wait. Closer they came. Another couple, a young man and 
woman, strolled into the light. Pink, she 's wearing pink. 
Precious felt the ache in her dissolve into something hard as 
she watched them. They did not take the turn. On they came, 
arm in arm, speaking in the gentle, considerate tones of those 
young to each other. When they neared the oak tree, Gregor 
gave the nod. 

The couple neither saw nor heard what came at them 
from the bushes beside the lake. They were taken in the most 
tender of moments as they gazed into each other's eyes, with- 


out a single thought or reflex of fear. Gregor took the woman, 
Precious the man. They drug their prey through the bushes and 
into a secluded clearing, where they deftly peeled the clothing 
from the carcasses and lay these items carefully aside before 
falling to their feed. Wet, cracking sounds pervaded the night. 

Precious, always the first to finish, stood and waited for 
Gregor. "Come here," she commanded softly from the re- 
newed lush of her lips. Gregor stepped across the deep stain on 
the grass that the elements would soon wear away and stooped, 
smiling indulgently while he allowed her to wipe his face clean 
and brush the black hair from his now smooth forehead. They 
undressed and shredded what was left of their moldering 
garments, scattering the fistful of scraps into the wind before 
donning the fresher attire. Precious and Gregor faced each 
other, resplendent in the garb of the already forgotten. 

"Dance, my sweet?" Gregor murmured, bowing low 
beneath a moon that was taking its last turn in the sky to begin 
its journey west. Precious nodded and curtsied before stepping 
within the circle of his arms, where she savored the strength 
and fluidity in their movements. Pink, I just knew it'd be Pink, 
she thought happily as the girl's skirt moved with her. 

They danced around the field, first in a waltz and then 
a fox-trot. Precious gazed into Gregor' s deep green eyes and 
forgot all else. There was no hunger, nor illness, nor death. 
Forever and ever and ever. She closed her eyes and held onto 
him, allowing him to lead her through graceful swirls and dips 
over the night-cooled grass. They moved so swiftly that they 
became a blur no mortal eye could comprehend, a cool breeze 
on the dead calm of a late summer night. 

Gregor and Precious danced until the pink edge of 
dawn slit the horizon. Precious froze and stared into it, until 
Gregor gently pried her fingers from his shoulder and led her 
back toward the lake. A tear trickled down her cheek and she 
caught it with her hand and held it aloft. It shimmered like a 
diamond from her finger before dripping onto her waiting 
tongue. A single tear, a single drop of salt for our anniversary. 


She trailed slowly after Gregor, pausing when a shiny 
pink something caught her eye. The girl's pocket book still lay 
in the damp grass. Precious stooped and picked it up, savoring 
the smoothness of the leather before opening it. Inside she 
found a wallet, a hairbrush and a small silver tube. She 
plucked the tube from the purse and let the rest fall forgotten to 
the ground. Twisting the tube slowly, a small, pink stick of lip 
color appeared. 

"Pink," she sighed, closing the tube carefully and 
holding it to her bosom. She moved across the grass to where 
Gregor waited, his eyes glinting with the flame of emeralds. 
He embraced her and they headed out through the park and 
across the still sleeping town common until they came to a 
gravel road that led through tall iron gates. They entered and 
walked up the path that cut through the center of the cemetery, 
to the ivy covered, stone building that waited for them there. 
The damp, moldy smell of the crypt that lay within greeted 
them as they stood poised to cross the threshold and into the 
perpetual dark. Precious gripped his arm. 

"Once more, Gregor?" 

He nodded slowly. Precious squeezed his hand be- 
tween hers and stared defiantly into the ever reddening sky. 

"Now, Gregor. Kiss me now." 

"We can't, Precious." 

"Please, just this once?" she breathed, pressing herself 

He glanced up at the swelling clouds of the coming day 
before stooping forward and kissing her, pushing his lips 
deeply into hers, abruptly shoving her away as the hunger 
swelled in them. Precious smiled sadly and touched her lips. 


"Forever." He smiled back and held out his hand, 
"come, Precious." He led her inside, sealing the doors against 
the daylight behind them. 


These Four Walls 

Solitaire. Bare. Silent. 

Nothing but an occasional dark, gray scruff 

On the creamy white walls and me. 

They will cover them with fresh new paint. 

They will fill the holes that were used to hang 

My mirrors, curtains, and frames. 

They will make it look as if nobody 

Lived here. 

Brand new. 

If these four walls could speak 

What would they say? 

Would they laugh at the way I acted out 

My dreams and fantasies? 

Would they tell of the lonely, insecure girl 

Who stared out the window 

Wishing someone would love her 

Enough to rescue her? 

Would they speak of the time 

I blindly invited poisonous love inside? 

Inside the room of my soul 

That was one time alive? 

Would they say how many nights 

I wept on my knees, on the chilled wooden floor? 

Would they tell about how I stood 

In front of the long, narrow mirror 

To criticize my physical flaws? 


These four walls have witnessed 

Bits and pieces of my being. 

They have seen and heard 

The depths of the darkest, profound secrets. 

Are they eager for the next one 

To occupy the space, to take my place? 

Exactly how many coats of fresh paint 

Have they endured, anyways? 

I will never know. 

If these four walls could speak 

What would they say? 

Michelle Ortiz 


Christopher K. Daly 


Trash: A Lesson in Seduction 

Billy Parker 

The grey-tarnished truck lumbered through street after 
street, picking up the world's refuse at a glance. But was that 
all the streets held? Mere refuse? Darwin didn't think so. The 
day he applied for his job as a garbage man, he went to the 
office, or the cubicle that poorly imitated one, what with the 
water cooler and all, and immediately met the secretary who 
asked if he was there for the job of sanitary engineer. Darwin 
hated glamour. He saw his job for its reality, garbage collector. 
Still, he said yes and recited his vital statistics as if in the 
Army. Darwin, Peter G. 5' 11'. 163 pounds. Social Security, 
254-64-2665. Truck license, same. That concluded his inter- 
view. Hired. Garbage man. Usually, the city placed two men 
to a truck, but Darwin was stuck alone. His partner was down 
with the flu or some such ailment. He wouldn't be back for at 
least two weeks, and with the personnel shortage, there were no 
extra partners to be had. Just as well. Darwin preferred work- 
ing alone. He could get closer to his work. Salvaging the 
broken treasures of others brought him great joy. Occasion- 
ally, he learned about his customers, as he liked to call them. 
Little Rusty got a bad report from school, but his mom never 
knew. Mr. Danfield got lingerie catalogs in the mail. Dirty old 
bastard. Darwin's salvaging was how he came to love Marissa. 
She was unknowingly the love of Darwin's life. 

The cans yielded more than the usual wonders on that 
particular day. Darwin lifted a lid to reveal a letter. He 
smelled the fine perfume, even over the pungent stench of 
garbage. He opened the sealed pink envelope, careful not to 
damage its contents. Coaxing the paper from its resting place, 
he read. 

My love, I have been watching you. Your walk, with 
its side-to-side sway, your hair blowing in the morning 


breeze, your sleepy yawn as you pass my house every 
day. I love to see your muscles, perfect working 
machines, flexing, dripping with the dew of your daily 
toiling. I have fallen in love with you, my dear. You 
make my heart flutter. I love you and will always be — 
Yours, Marissa 

Darwin was stunned. Could it really be him she was 
after? Or was she too scared to give her letter to its intended 
recipient? He carefully replaced the letter as he walked back to 
the truck. Was he Marissa' s lover? And if he was, which 
house was hers? It could be any one of four. If only he knew. 

After a long night of thinking, Darwin woke to a rainy 
day and prepared himself for work. A quick breakfast, and he 
was out the door. As Darwin drove his route, he daydreamed 
of ways he could see his beloved Marissa, but no idea seemed 
worthwhile. Presently, though, he was in front of her cans. 
Darwin again wondered which of the houses was hers. Was 
she watching him now? He glanced at each house, ready to 
look away if he saw anyone looking back. There was not, so 
Darwin raided the cans. Finding another note, he dumped the 
rest and got into the truck. Again he coaxed the words of 
adoration from within the walls of the envelope. 

My dear, I have learned your name. Peter. It is such a 
wonderful name. How I should love to call it out again 
and again. I am going to my mother's today, and I will 
not see you, but write me a response. Leave it under 
the can. I so look forward to your words, Peter. 
Yours, Marissa 

Darwin was ecstatic. It really was him she loved. The 
rest of the day, Darwin thought and thought. Finally, he 
decided to do the first drastic act in his life. He took up a 
pen and began writing. 

Marissa, though I haven't seen you, I am in love with 


you. I dream about you at night. I wonder what you 
look like. I look forward to your perfumed, pink enve- 
lope. I slowly open it and drink in every word. I must 
see you, Marissa. I have to see the woman who makes 
me feel this way. Tell me which house is yours. I will 
come to see you, and we can be together. I hope to see 
you soon, Marissa. 

As soon as Darwin finished his letter, he drove over and 
left it exactly where Marissa had instructed, under the can. 
Driving home, he thought about what morning would bring. 
For the first time in years, Darwin anticipated the next day. 
With dawn came invigoration and courage. Darwin got ready 
and rushed out to work. He didn't even bother with the trea- 
sures of others. Today he wanted a treasure of his own. When 
he came to the can, he could scarcely open it. Finding the 
prettier-than-usual pink envelope, he shakily removed the 

Peter, My house is the red brick. Come tonight to the 
backdoor. Knock three times. I'll be waiting. 
Love, Marissa 

Darwin jumped about as he returned to the truck, 
almost forgetting to empty the can. After rushing home from 
work, Darwin immediately began to get ready for his evening. 
He took his time to make sure everything was exactly right. 
First, a shower. Just enough hot water to feel good. Darwin 
never was one for too much hot water. Next, after carefully 
drying his wet limbs, Darwin shaved. He expertly agitated the 
brush to form a pearly white foam. Closing his eyes, he lath- 
ered his face, knowing every inch by feel. His skin tingled as 
the thick foam penetrated his pores. Darwin slowly picked up 
his father' s gift to him sixteen years ago — a silver handled 
razor. He palmed it as if he were shaking an old friend's hand. 
The newly sharpened blade felt ever so good as it removed the 


stubble from Darwin's right cheek. Right was always first. 
Then left. Finally, the chin. Last, the upper lip. Darwin 
carefully rinsed the tool in the running water. Then he blotted 
his clean shaven face. He enjoyed the smoothness. He hoped 
Marissa would as well. An hour later, Darwin was at Marissa' s 
doorstep. He rapped three times. Knock. Knock. Knock. 
Marissa opened the door. She was stunning, with her fitted 
dress and six inch heels. Darwin could but stare as she 
sashayed through the dim light toward him. Saying nothing, 
she pulled him inside, meeting him with a kiss that almost 
stopped his heart. Marissa smiled as she led him to the bed- 

The next morning, Darwin awoke with the strength 
only a night like the last could bring, to find a pink envelope on 
the pillow. He read. 

Be gone by noon. My husband returns at one. I can 
never see you again. It's amazing what treasures one 
finds in the trash, isn't it, Peter? 


Nick Bacich 


National Geographic 

I snip outline of bright objects. 

The artist in me selects, places. 

Viewer will put it all together. 

The colorful clutter collects. 

Shadow covers sloping mountains. 

Rusty tractor remains behind. 

Young boy with flowers is snubbed. 

The girl has lips pursed tight. 

Old man's skin is weather beaten, 

He smiles beside black, Model-T. 

Robed priest blesses scene of viewer 

She faces wall of oil paintings. 

Thin child peers beneath a basket. 

He stands before fortress and blue whale. 

The boy jumps over banister. 

Parents watch, see skate board in his hand. 

Grandmother squinches girl's pink cheeks. 

She squeezes child in crook of her arm. 

Behind them is large broken egg shell. 

The chicken's foot is large and splayed. 

Rachel Brown 


Time Flying 

Phillip Kandel 

The Spring 

Julie Barfield 

Did you know that if aphids had no predators and an 
unlimited food supply, they would cover the earth, several 
miles thick in just one summer? It's an interesting fact I picked 
up from, but no, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me start from 
the beginning. 

There's a table in my garden, a green, wrought-iron 
table with surprisingly comfortable chairs to match. I got it for 
a song at an estate sale last winter. 

That table started everything. Before I had it, I lived 
inside. I'd look out at the same shrubs around the house, 
legacies of a former owner, and I'd turn back to the television 
or the dishes or whatever was waiting for me indoors. 

But after I bought it, things started to happen. I decided 
I'd enjoy sitting at it more if I had a little privacy from the 
bordering road; up went the wooden fence. I thought some 
vines might be nicer to look at than a fence, so in came the 
Honeysuckle. Roses followed, then Dahlias, Larkspur, Del- 
phinium, Columbines, Sweet William, Summer Phlox, and a 
virtual stampede of garden plants, tools, soil, and planters. 

It was a pretty extensive garden, especially for someone 
with no experience beyond a patch of Shasta daisies and 
Marigolds in childhood, but I loved it. When I had a spare 
hour, it was spent preparing the soil, weeding, planning, plant- 
ing, watering, pruning. Nothing could stop me; I had found a 

From then on, I kept my curtains open whenever I was 
inside. I filled the house with vases of cut flowers, and every 
heavy book was a flower press. The outdoors had become 
familiar and inviting to me. I savored the cool softness of rich 
soil crumbling in my hands, the gentle, ariry fragrances of 
flowers and of leaves— nothing like potpourri—and the cheerful 
banter of bird calls floating through the air. 

My garden had begun beautifully. The plants were 
thriving, budding, blossoming, rewarding me for my devotion, 


thrilling me with their variety and brilliance. I spent whole 
days at my table, watching the transformations and contem- 
plating the richness of my paradise. 

Then one day, having noticed an odd color on one of 
the English Roses, I stepped over to take a closer look. The 
heavy round bud, normally an even, buttery yellow, was 
splotched with red marks and black circles. I was appalled. 
Looking into the garden, I saw an abundance of healthy plants, 
but here and there, in inconspicuous spots, there were frayed 
leaves, nibbled petals, inexplicable movements. I couldn't tell 
how many or what kind they were, but I knew my fragile 
garden was surrounded by— bugs. 

I went to the toolshed for my clippers and used them to 
lop off all the infested flowers I could find. Another Rose, a 
Peony bud, even the leaves of a Butterfly Bush. I squashed 
them all thoroughly, as much for effect as to kill the eggs 

In the weeks that followed, there were more and more 
bug-related problems. The one "useful" plant I had tried, a 
simple tomato, had been attacked and all its fruit consumed or 
ruined. The Irises got borers; aphids came out of nowhere to 
feast on the best of my Roses; caterpillars were everywhere. I 
was desperate. 

I resolved to buy a poison and douse the whole yard 
with it. I went to the store, headed toward the aisle I had 
always avoided, took a deep breath, and plunged in. "Harmful 
to fish and wildlife," "May be harmful to birds, fish, and other 
wildlife," "Toxic to fish, waterfowl, and other wildlife," all 
the containers proclaimed. The air I was trying not to breathe 
on that aisle backed up their claims. I left the store empty- 
handed, resigned. 

For days after that, I sat at my table and stared into the 
garden, watching the gruesome little creatures devour my joy 
as they crawled, hopped, and flew through the paradise that 
used to be mine. Horror followed resignation, and I began to 
shudder at their stiff -jointed acrobatics and their fluid dances, 
watching frozen as their tiny relentless mouths clamped tight 


to the flowers, drinking the life that had enriched mine. The 
disproportionately large eyes peered out at me in dreams, and 
the light, stiff legs crawled over me as I lay inert, sleeping. 
Tiny winged things started flying into my mouth, and when I 
awoke, I spent half an hour brushing my teeth. 

Over the sound of running water and my frantic gar- 
gling, I heard one morning on the radio that the county exten- 
sion service was offering a class in organic pest control. I 
called immediately to register and counted the days till it 
started. The dreams got worse, as though the little monsters 
knew my plan and were taking their vengeance early. But they 
couldn't scare me out of it; that Tuesday afternoon, the first day 
of class, I was there early, waiting by the door, anxious to 

"Here for the bug class?" asked a voice over my shoul- 

"Yes," I said, turning to see who spoke. It was a man, 
standing comfortably beside me, holding a notebook under one 
arm and smiling pleasantly. 

"I guess we're a little early. I'm Karl Blake." He held 
out his hand. 

I took it and answered, "Charlotte." 

"Just Charlotte?" he asked, but before I had time to 
answer, the instructor appeared and began to jabber at us. He 
unlocked the door to the classroom and let us in. More stu- 
dents followed, and in a few moments we were all assembled at 
a large table in the middle of the room. 

The instructor called the roll. Eight people of the nine 
who had registered were present. He decided to begin. First, 
he had us tell how long we had been gardening. I was one of 
the newest at it, not surprisingly, but no one seemed to mind. 
Then he asked about specific crops or flowers and our indi- 
vidual problems with bugs. I told my story, all but the night- 
mares. Every time I looked up, it seemed Karl was looking 
over at me. I don't mean rudely, just attentively, almost like, 
well, attentively. 

About ten minutes into class, the door opened. We all 


looked around and saw a huge pair of eyes blinking back. 

"Is this the organic gardening class?" It was a thin, 
reedy voice, for all the world like a cricket. The instructor 
didn't seem to notice. He invited her in. 

"Livia Olson?" he asked, looking at his roll. 

"Liv," she replied and slid into the empty chair at the 

The class was two hours long, with a ten minute break 
in the middle. As the break began and the group was scattering 
in search of vending machines and bathrooms, I heard that odd 
high voice behind me, spoken in my direction. 

"Did you know that if aphids had no predators and an 
unlimited food supply, they would cover the earth, several 
miles thick, in just one summer?" She'd said it for effect, and 
successfully, too. As gardeners, we were all properly horrified 
by the thought of aphid-takeover. The strange thing about Liv, 
though, as I began to discover, was that you never knew which 
side she was rooting for. 

I turned toward her, facing the huge, round eyes nestled 
in the triangle of yellow skin that was her face. If it weren't for 
the thick black hair that flowed so heavy and mammalian from 
her scalp, she might have been mistaken for a human-sized 
bug. I stood there, wondering how to answer her comment, 
when Karl came to my side with a smile. He introduced 
himself to Liv, taking her hand, and helped me over my awk- 
wardness by engaging her in garden small-talk. 

When the class was over that night, I hoped for a 
chance to talk to Karl alone again, but charming young men are 
universally appreciated, and he was chatting with everyone. I 
turned to leave and started down the hall. Footsteps followed, 
but they clicked instead of treading. 


I shuddered. It was that creepy bug-woman. 

The clicking came quicker, and she was beside me. 

"Oh, hi," I said, pretending I hadn't heard her before. 

"Hi. It is Charlotte, isn't it?" 

"Yes, why?" 


"Oh, I just said your name. You must not have heard." 

"Oh." Creepier and creepier. What did she want? 

We left the building and headed for the parking lot. 

"I was a little late tonight. What did I miss?" 

"Oh, just introductions. And we talked about our 
individual problems with bugs." 

"The next class is Thursday, right?" 

"Mm-hm," I nodded. We were at my car. Say good 
night, Gracie. 

"Oh, you must be in a hurry. Well, I'll see you Thurs- 

"Okay, bye." I unlocked the door. She was still stand- 
ing there. "Goodnight." 

"Goodnight." Then, as an afterthought, she added, 
"Sleep tight; don't let the bed bugs bite!" She laughed at her 
little joke and finally walked away. Spooky. 

On Thursday, I was early again and waited in the hall 
for class to start. Mr. Barnes, the instructor, arrived first and 
after him, Liv, who sat beside me at the table. She had more 
bizarre information to offer about the ambitions and abilities of 
the insect world— apparently, collecting bug statistics was a 
hobby of hers. She seemed pretty wrapped up in things most 
people would rather not think about and offered a statement 
about the mating habits of beetles with a look most people 
assume when discussing weird couples at the end of the bar. 

I must have flinched, because she stopped in mid- 
sentence. Her triangular head nodded a little, swiveling so that 
my face was centered between her eyes. 

"Am I making you uncomfortable, Charlotte?" 

"What do you mean, because I don't like bugs?" 

"No, it's not that. Most people don't like them, but you 
seem to have quite a horror of them." She blinked her eyes 
several times, rhythmically. They were really sort of hypnotic, 
her eyes. 


"Well, I do get disgusted," I admitted. Then I added, 


without really believing it, "But it's all part of gardening; I can 
take it." 

"Well," she said, clamping and unclamping her tiny 
mouth, "that's how I chose the field. I'm studying to be an 
entomologist. When I was little, I had all sorts of insect pho- 
bias; sometimes they'd even get into my dreams." She combed 
at her thick hair with the fingers of her right hand, stopping 
half-way down to tug at a knot. "So, I tried to study the fears 
away, analyze them to death as it were." Here she tittered 
drunkenly. "It's worked pretty well." 

I didn't know if I agreed, so I kept silent. The rest of 
the class started to arrive, and finally Karl was there, sitting 
just across from me. In class that day, we discussed making 
excursions to the individual gardens. Karl's place was first on 
the list. 

During the break, he approached me, or us, I should 
say, since Liv was flitting around me like a gnat. Karl looked 
so handsome with his dark wavy hair and his warm eyes. 
Better every time I saw him. Why couldn't Liv take a hint and 
leave us alone? He was more polite than I could manage to be. 
He went out of his way to involve her in the conversation, draw 
her out. If his kindness was motivated by an impression that 
she was my friend, it was wasted effort, but maybe he was just 
raised better than I was. 

By the time the class resumed, I was really annoyed. 
Instead of slipping away to pester some other group, Liv had 
dominated the conversation, filling my ears with her silvery 
hum and testing the limits of my patience. She had even 
managed to engage Karl in what seemed like genuine conver- 
sation. They got on topics that went beyond mere politeness. 
Seems she knew an old girlfriend of his; I lost interest in the 
chatter. The break ended, and I went back to my seat, glad to 
hear the bustling of the group reclaiming their seats instead of 
the shrill voice that was Liv's. She glided smoothly back to her 
chair with movements that had a creepy, silent kind of grace to 

The day came to begin the garden tours. Karl met us at 


the classroom, and we followed in our cars as he led the way to 
his garden. It was only a few miles away, the Blake Estate, the 
closest thing in town to a mansion. So my Karl was one of 
those Blakes, the wealthy, powerful family that had practically 
invented Brookston. No matter; he had never set himself apart 
from the others out of misplaced pride. He was still his charm- 
ing, handsome self. 

When I arrived with Liv in tow (she'd invited herself to 
ride with me), Karl was greeting the others. When we were all 
assembled, he led the way to the kitchen garden. 

It was really striking. He said that when he'd started 
working on it, six years ago, it had been pretty run down. No 
one had done much to it beyond weeding for some time. He 
had practically redone everything, pulling up the worn-out 
plants, choosing some new colors to freshen it up, and making 
a more harmonious composition. Mr. Barnes applauded the 
design and mentioned a few things Karl could do to inhibit the 
bugs that had been feasting on his Thyme. 

We moved on toward the next stop, the informal peren- 
nial borders. As we walked along the cut stone path, someone 
pointed out the yellow flowers edging our way. They were 
Primroses, a sort of joke, Karl explained. 

The borders were even more luxuriously planted than 
the kitchen garden. They followed a long stretch of the path, 
from sunlight to shade. The designs must have been difficult- 
there was a rather steep slope— but the effect was dazzling. 
Magnificent blue Delphinium and creamy Hollyhocks formed 
the backbone of the garden, while Rosebushes brimming with 
heavy red blossoms filled the center for a striking contrast. 
Baby's Breath and Blue Wonder spilled over the walk in 
alternating clumps along the front, and the rest was filled in 
with Porterweed, Gerber daisies, Salvias, and multitudes of 
other flowers. The shady end of the garden was bright with 
Strawberry Foxglove and diamond white Astilbe lining the 
background and Hostas. Cushion Spurge, and even midget 
Calla Lilies to the fore. It was remarkable, and Karl's animated 


voice in describing his efforts showed the strength of his 
attachment to it. 

A man after my own heart. 

For me, it was a difficult though a beautiful day. I had 
to keep reminding myself that all this wasn't mine; I'd be 
leaving along with the other guests soon. Even "guests" was 
saying a little much; it was just a class, but something about 
Karl was so inviting and comfortable. I didn't want to leave. 

But the day was ending. The warm breeze slowed, 
stilled, and the light was changing from a clear white to a 
muddled orange. Mr. Barnes informed Karl that using copper 
stakes for the Hostas would keep snails away, and then he 
dismissed the class. We turned as a group and headed back 
down the yellow-lined path. I saw that Karl and Liv were 
discussing something up ahead, but I couldn't hear what—the 
path was only wide enough for two. 

We all said goodbye to Karl and began to leave. I 
couldn't stay to chat, because I had Liv to cart home, and, 
besides, my car was behind Mr. Barnes'. We pulled out of the 
driveway in silence, and for a moment, I thought I'd get to 
spend the whole trip in delicious contemplation, but then Liv 
started in on me. 

"I'm so glad I rode with you; otherwise, I wouldn't have 
known how to get away." 

What an odd thing to say. 

"Oh, that's all right." I assumed she was thanking me. 

She wasn't finished. Her long fingers strummed uncon- 
sciously on the thin, flat purse across her lap. The movement 
made me shudder. Her head was rocking on her neck, a little 
like it wasn't securely attached. I wished her away, but her 
tiny, hard mouth began to open and she spoke again. 

"I suppose I should tell him to stop calling me. I just 
don't want this class to become unpleasant." 

Whatever was she talking about? 

"Whatever are you talking about?" I asked. 


My head spun toward her involuntarily. I expected to 


see her glaring at me with those huge insect eyes of hers, 
maybe even smiling cruelly at the bewildered look on my face. 
But no. She was sitting, rather like an ordinary person, with 
her eyes directed at her shoes in silent thought. 

I turned back to the road. Surely she was joking. But 
Liv didn't know how to joke. He was calling her? HE was 
calling HER? It didn't make sense. What did they have in 
common? He likes plants; she likes bugs. 

"Are you serious?" I asked, trying not to sound too 
incredulous or upset. "Karl's been calling you?" 

"Yes. But I'm far too busy to see anyone. Besides, he's 
not my type." 

Oh, and what is your type? Six legged? How could 
Karl like this insect of a woman who didn't even have the sense 
to appreciate him? 

My beautiful day was never beautiful at all. It had all 
been an illusion. 

We got to Liv's appartment, and I pulled up in silence, 
waiting for her to get out. 

"Thank you for the ride, Charlotte. Would you like to 
come in for a while?" 

"I thought you were too busy to see anyone." God, that 
sounded bitter. 

"Well, there's seeing and then ther's seeing. Hey, have 
you seen The Swarm ?" 


"You know, the movie about killer bees. I've got it on 

"No. Listen, Liv, I really have to go." 

"Okay. I'll see you next week at my garden." 


I drove home quickly and almost ran to my garden 
when I was there. I sat at the table and stared unseeing into the 
plants. I had been getting a little too involved in my Karl 
fantasies. I needed to sort out my thoughts. 

Hadn't he singled me out for attention? Hadn't he 
sought me out during our spare time? Hadn't he— But no, Liv 


had been with me. Had she been waiting for him to come over, 
using me as bait? Or had he been coming to-unthinkable! 
But, maybe he had been coming over to talk to her. Maybe I 
was the one who was in the way. 

There was a rustling of leaves, and I looked up. There 
before me, perched on the tip of a late-blooming Columbine, 
was a pair of great yellow eyes, blinking into mine. There 
were cruel pincers before its mouth and elaborately jointed legs 
folded under its segmented body. It was ready to spring to- 
wards me. I was powerless in its gaze. I felt that it knew me, 
or knew at least what I was, an obstacle to its ambition. I 
stayed seated, but leaned further back in my chair, distancing 
my face from the creature. Surely it couldn't jump that far. 

I stared into its eyes, which bobbed a little as the plant 
moved in a sudden breeze. There was a movement at the 
creature's back, and suddenly, wings unfolded. It zoomed 
towards my face as though it were gliding on a string. My 
paralysis was over. I ran frantically, foolishly into the house, 
locking the door behind me. 

I didn't go outside at all the next day. I even skipped 
class so I wouldn't have to see Liv's garden. I went outside 
once to turn on the sprinkler, and once again to turn it off, but I 
didn't go near the garden. 

By the time the class met again, I couldn't stay away. I 
had to find out where I stood. I was a little late, but everyone 
was in the parking lot when I arrived. 

"Oh, good, I'm glad you're here," said Mr. Barnes, as I 
walked toward the group. "We're just on our way to see Liv's 

"Oh?" I said. "I thought, I thought I had missed that." 

"No, you're in luck. It looked a little overcast last time, 
so we stayed inside." 

I tried to think of something polite to say, but it didn't 
matter; the class was forming its little caravan. I got back into 
my car and joined the parade. In about fifteen minutes we had 
arrived at the university test gardens, where Liv had a plot of 
her own. I had considered turning off and going back home, 


but I didn't want to offend Mr. Barnes. 

Liv had warned us not to expect too much, but when I 
finally saw it, I began to consider even the word "garden" as an 
exaggeration. It was more like a bed, about five feet by ten 
feet, filled in with various plants in no particular order. Red 
Roses butted heads with a pink and yellow Peonies. Taller 
flowers covered the front of the bed, hiding the shorter ones 
behind them from view. Apparently, Liv functioned without a 
sense of composition, a larger picture. I supposed spending 
most of your waking hours contemplating creatures smaller 
than your thumbnail could have that effect, but still it seemed 
strange. Her little shed, which was filled with dried bugs 
pinned onto papers and live bugs staring angrily out of their 
tiny cages, almost made me feel pity. As we inspected the 
place and commented on the variety of insects she had at her 
disposal to study, she stood still, her long, delicate fingers 
twisting a bit of string on the wooden table, looking something 
like a bug goddess as she stared vacantly past her thralls. 

At the end of the day, when we were leaving, I ob- 
served Karl closely, but didn't attempt to approach him. Karl 
said "Goodbye, Livia. See you next week." 

As he spoke, Liv's pupils seemed to dilate and her head 
swiveled them toward him. The first tinge of red I had ever 
seen on her cheeks appeared then. It reminded me of some- 
thing out of a dream. 

I was leaving, too, and trying to shake off the creepy 
feeling that her looks and her voice and her bugs gave me when 
I was accosted by her trilling. 

"Charlotte, wait a minute." 

"I need to go, Liv." 

"Oh, I just wanted to say something. It's about Karl." 

"Oh?" I said, suddenly interested. It sounded like a 
confession. I'd wondered if Karl had invited us both to stay 
that day and if Liv had declined for both of us. Maybe she was 
ashamed and wanted to apologize. 

"Well, the last time I saw you, I said some pretty 
unkind things." 



"I mean about Karl. But I really don't think badly about 
him, not really at all." Again with the pink cheeks. 

I couldn't tell what she was getting at, but then she 
turned those big eyes on me, blinking at me like, like I was an 
obstacle to her ambition. 

"Why are you telling me this?" I asked. 

"I just thought you'd like to know," said her small 
clamping mouth, but it seemed there was something more 
behind it. 

I left. 

I didn't go back to class again. 

One day that fall I saw an article in the Brookston Post 
announcing the engagement of Livia Olson to Karl Blake. I 
had a dream that night about Liv's garden. Her nervous fingers 
had been engaged in shredding one of my English Roses 
instead of twisting about a bit of old string. I had stared at the 
motions in a trance and, when I heard Karl's voice saying, 
"Goodbye, Livia. See you next week," something glistened at 
her hands. The golden color I had thought was my Rose had 
become a shining circle on one of those long delicate fingers, 
and beautiful wings had jutted suddenly out of her back. I 
stood frozen, staring in awe. 

"Am I making you uncomfortable, Charlotte?" came the 
thin, trilling voice. I raised my eyes to hers and she leapt up 
into the air flying toward my open mouth, mesmerizing me 
with her huge eyes. I woke up screaming, terrified, unable to 

The winter was a difficult time, with no flowers to help 
me through. But it's spring now. 

Yes, it's spring now, and there are more aphids than 
ever on my roses. 


Dawn's Dew 

Vickie Williams 



At the foot of blue mountains cold in the sun 
In the breast of her hills a river does wind 
From her hard black bones white waters are spun 
Just like the wind it's not cruel or kind 

Where emeralds can bleed and weep with the sky 
It's here I saw E'la child of the wood 
The blue and green water flowed in her eyes 
Wat'ry diamond bracelets danced where she stood. 

The tears of the mountain shed from the snow 
The spirit was waiting, jaws opened wide 
To pull me down to boiling froth below 
With you my sweet E'la there by my side 

If mountains could cry if mountains could pray 
No one beats the river is all she'd say 

Jim Sheehan 


Cloud Study #46 

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